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What you can do to help

Activities like walking your dog or driving your car can leave pollutants on the ground that can be washed off in rain water. All the hard surfaces you use everyday, such as parking lots, driveways, rooftops, and sidewalks, dramatically increase the rate and amount of runoff. What each of us can do to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff might seem small, but it can all add up to reducing the problems caused by storm water. Here are some ways you can help:

Reduce the Rate and Volume of Runoff

Roof Runoff

Capture roof runoff in rain barrels.

  • Divert roof runoff to the lawn instead of to a driveway, sidewalk, or directly to the street.
  • Install rain barrels at your downspouts and use the water for irrigation.

Lawn Runoff

  • Aerate the lawn to increase the rate of infiltration.
  • Maintain a healthy lawn.
  • If landscaping a new house, avoid soil compaction or till the soils and add compost before planting seed or laying sod.

Driveway and Patio Runoff

Use porous pavement for driveways.

  • Use porous pavement or paver blocks when building new or additional driveway or patio area. The same for rebuilding these hard surfaces.

All Sources of Runoff

raingarden in front of house

Infiltrate runoff with rain gardens.

raingarden behind mailboxes

Infiltrate runoff with rain gardens.


Reduce Pollutants in Storm Water Runoff

Pet Waste

  • Clean up pet waste - bury it or flush it down the toilet. Don't let pet waste accumulate in your yard.

Pollution from Cars

Use commercial car washes where wash water is collected for treatment.

  • Keep cars tuned up and repair leaks. Dispose of fluids, such as oil and antifreeze, properly.
  • Try ways to use your car less. Reduce a few trips with your car each week by walking, biking, or using the bus.
  • Clean your car at a commercial car wash. The grime on a car has high concentrations of pollutants.

Lawn and Yard Maintenance

These leaves will end up in the storm sewer if it rains.

These leaves can be collected for composting.

  • Keep leaves and yard waste out of street. Compost leaves if possible or pile on terrace for city pick-up.
  • Do not blow grass clippings onto street, sidewalk or driveway - mulch grass clippings and leave on lawn for natural fertilizer.
  • Avoid overuse of pesticides and fertilizers - use only amount needed and only apply when necessary.
  • Target the use of pesticides to problem areas.
  • Don't spread fertilizers on driveway or sidewalks.
  • Buy phosphorus free fertilizers.
  • Seed any bare spots in your lawn.

Other Sources of Pollutants

This residual salt can pollute storm water runoff - use sparingly.

  • Limit use of salt on sidewalk and driveway - remove snow and ice as much as possible by shoveling and scraping before using salt. Use sand if the temperatures are below 15 degrees.
  • Store and dispose of chemicals properly - do not put left over chemicals in the storm sewer.
  • Clean up any chemical spills on hard surfaces.
  • Keep chemicals stored outside in waterproof containers.

More Information on How You Can Help

Last revised: Friday November 04 2016