By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of storm water. Adopt these healthy household habits for your vehicle and garage, lawn and garden, home repair and improvement, pet care, swimming pool and spa and septic system use and maintenance to help protect lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands.
Vehicle and Garage
Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface to minimize the amount of dirty, soapy water flowing into the storm drain and eventually into your local water.
Check your car, boat, motorcycle, and other machinery and equipment for leaks and spills. Make repairs as soon as possible. Clean up spilled fluids with an absorbent material like kitty litter or sand, and don't rinse the spills into a nearby storm drain. Remember to properly dispose of the absorbent material.
Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at participating services stations. Don't dump these chemicals down the storm drain or dispose of them in your trash.
Lawn and Garden
Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Avoid application if the forecast calls for rain; otherwise, chemicals will be washed into your local stream.
Select native plants and grasses that are drought- and pest resistant. Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing down areas. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible.
Don't overwater your lawn. Water during the cool times of the day and don't let water run off into the storm drain.
Cover piles of dirt with mulch being used in landscaping projects to prevent these pollutants from blowing or washing off your yard and into local water bodies.
Vegetate bare sports in your to prevent soil erosion.
Create a rain garden to divert storm water away from your home.
Home Repair and Improvement
Before beginning an outdoor project, locate the nearest storm drains and protect them from debris and other materials.
Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris such as concrete and mortar.
Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents, and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the directions on the label. Clean up spills immediately, and dispose of the waste safely. Store substances properly to avoid leaks and spills.
Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled, and recyclable products whenever possible.
Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Filter and reuse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program, or donate unused paint to local organizations.
Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces onto lawns and other measures to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff.
Install a green roof to help slow the flow and improve the water quality of water coming off your roof during rain events.
When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.
Swimming Pool and Spa
Drain your swimming pool only when a test kit does not detect chlorine levels.
Whenever possible, drain your pool or spa into the sanitary sewer system.
Properly store pool and spa chemicals to prevent leaks and spills, preferably in a covered area to avoid exposure to storm water.
Septic System Use and Maintenance
Have your septic system inspected by a professional at least every three years, and have the septic tank pumped as necessary (usually every 3 to 5 years).
Care for the septic system drain field by not driving or parking vehicles on it. Plant only grass over and near the drain field to avoid damage from roots.
Flush responsibly. Flushing household chemicals like paint, pesticides, oil and antifreeze can destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system. Other items, such as diapers, paper towels and cat littler can clog the septic system and potentially damage components.