Stormwater runoff can pollute our drinking water | Garden



We can all agree that the best way to protect the quality of the water in our drinking water supply is to avoid polluting it first. If runoff contaminates our rivers, lakes and oceans, we can no longer use it as domestic water sources and recreational areas.

Stormwater is a problem when it picks up debris, chemicals and other pollutants as it flows into streams and rivers or when it causes flooding and erosion on backyard banks of water. These pollutants are deposited untreated in our waterways. The result may be the closure of our lake to a ban on swimming, fishing or boating, and injury to plants and animals that live in or near that water.

Where will these contaminants come from – industry, agriculture, construction, household? Most people will say that pollution comes from industry and agriculture. While this is true to some extent, much of the pollution comes from household waste.

Household pollutants are products of everyday use such as ammonia-based cleaners, pipe cleaners, washing products such as phosphate detergents and car waxes, paints, paint thinners, varnishes, furniture finishing products, concrete or wood sealants, degreasers, bleach and disinfectants. Homeowners should not stop using these products, but use them according to their instructions and excess materials should not be dumped into sewers or where they can be taken to storm sewers.

Vehicles drip fluids such as oil, antifreeze, brake fluids and grease on driveways and roads where stormwater runoff carries them to our storm drains. The best way to get rid of these products is to allow auto shops, oil change shops, and tire shops to worry about recycling by having them perform these services. However, owners maintain their own vehicles and can accumulate these products. There are many companies in Lawton who will take these materials for free or for a small fee.

Many people walk their dogs in neighborhoods and parks. When the dog relieves himself, it is very unsightly and painful if people walk in it. Animal droppings left on the ground can end up in stormwater, contributing to harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses in our waterways. Carry a bag and pick up after your pets when you walk the animal.

Chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers used to grow and maintain beautiful lawns and gardens, if not used properly, can run into storm drains when it rains or when we water our lawns and gardens. It is better to use pesticides and fertilizers after a rain than before. The use of pesticides requires careful attention to label directions as well as common sense and good judgment.

When mowing, a common practice is to blow the clippings out onto the street for someone else to care. These mows usually contain weedkillers, pesticides and large amounts of nitrogen that eventually contaminate our waterways. Another common practice is not to pick up trash but to mow it along with the grass. Best practice is to pick up trash, grab clippings, or maneuver the mower to get clippings reapplied to the lawn.

Jim Coe lives in Lawton and writes a weekly gardening column.


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