We can all help protect water quality

Jan. 19, 2023

stormwater pouring into a water body

Stormwater carries roadway chemicals and debris to a waterway through a concrete pipe.

Did you know Florida is home to nearly 8,000 lakes, 1,700 rivers, streams, springs and spring runs, thousands of miles of man-made canals, and extensive wetlands — not to mention over 8,000 miles of coastline? And if you live in one of the counties within the St. Johns River Water Management District, chances are you aren’t far from one of these water bodies.

As more people continue to call Florida home, it is more important than ever to be mindful of how everyday activities can pollute our waterways. Stormwater runoff (rainwater that flows off lawns, driveways, streets, parking lots, construction sites, etc.) is a large contributor to water pollution and can even cause harmful algal blooms. We can all do something to help prevent water pollution.

Residents and businesses can help in the following ways:

  • Keep grass clippings and leaves out of storm drains and off roadways. Rake or blow grass clippings and leaves back into your yard or collect and dispose as green waste.
    • Grass clippings and leaves decay into nitrogen and phosphorus, both nutrients that trigger harmful algal blooms.
  • Wash your car at the car wash rather than in your driveway. Commercial carwashes use less water, and soaps are deactivated and treated appropriately before going to the municipal water treatment facility. Some even reuse their water.
    • Soaps used to wash cars can destroy the mucus layer that protects fish from bacteria and parasites.
  • Pick up after your pets and dispose of pet waste in household trash.
    • Pet waste contains harmful pathogens and bacteria that can make people and animals sick.
  • Painting? Clean your brushes in buckets and let the material settle out before disposing of it in your household drain where the municipal waste system can filter out sediments.

Not only will these simple steps help protect our water quality, but they will also help ensure the stormwater system is operating as designed! When debris enters storm drains, it compromises the system. Leaves, grass clippings and trash can clog the system and increase the risk of flooding to nearby homes and neighborhoods. Do your part to keep our water clean and your neighborhood stormwater system functioning properly!

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