Storm drains and roadside ditches lead to our lakes and rivers. So, any oil, pet waste, leaves or dirty water from washing your car that enters a storm drain gets into our lakes and rivers without being treated. With almost five million people living in Southeast Michigan, we all need to be aware of what goes into our storm drains. How can you help? Simple.
Sweep it. Do you have extra fertilizer, grass clippings, or dirt on your driveway or sidewalk? Sweep it back onto your lawn. Hosing your driveway sends these pollutants into storm drains that lead directly to our lakes and rivers. Keep it clean. Whether in the street or in your yard, remember to keep leaves, grass clippings, trash, and fertilizers away from storm drains. Only rain in the drain. Never dump motor oil, chemicals, pet waste, dirty or soapy water, or anything else down the storm drain. All of these materials pollute our lakes and rivers!
Label it. Volunteer to label the storm drains in your neighborhood to inform residents that storm drains flow directly to our lakes and rivers. Call your local community for more information on storm drain stenciling programs.
Remember, You're Not Just Washing Your Car...
Did you know there are over four million vehicles in Southeast Michigan? With that many cars and trucks, we all need to practice good car care to protect our lakes and streams.
How does caring for your car affect our waterways? Storm drains found in our streets and roadside ditches lead directly to our lakes and streams. If dirty water from washing our cars gets into the storm drain, it pollutes our local waterways. This “dirty” water contains pollutants such as grease and dirt, and the soap itself contains phosphorus, which can lead to excessive algae growth in our lakes.
What can you do? Simple.
Make a date. Car-wash facilities treat their dirty water before discharging it to our lakes and streams. So, make a date to take your car to a car wash.
Wash it—on the grass. If you wash your car at home, consider washing it on the lawn. The lawn will gladly soak up the soapy, dirty water preventing it from entering storm drains or roadside ditches. If you can't use the lawn, try to direct the dirty water towards the lawn and away from the storm drain.
Minimize it. Reduce the amount of soap you use or wash your car with plain water.
Remember, You're Not Just Maintaining Your Car...
Did you know that just four quarts of oil can form an eight-acre oil slick if spilled or dumped down a storm drain? With over four million vehicles in Southeast Michigan, we all need to practice good car care to protect our lakes and streams.
How does caring for your car affect our waterways? Storm drains found in our streets and yards and roadside ditches lead directly to our lakes and streams. So, if motor oil and other fluids are dumped or washed into the storm drain, they pollute our local waterways.
What can you do? Simple.
Maintain it. Keep your vehicle properly tuned and use the owner’s manual to guide decisions about how often it is necessary to change fluids such as oil and antifreeze.
Take advantage of business expertise. Consider taking your vehicle to the shop to have the oil and other fluids changed. These businesses have the ability to recycle the used materials and clean up accidental spills.
Recycle. If you choose to change your oil and other fluids yourself, label the waste containers. Then, take them to your community's household hazardous waste collection day or to a business that accepts used oil. Never dump used oil, antifreeze, or other fluids on the ground or down the storm drain.
Soak it up. Use kitty litter promptly to absorb small amounts of spilled vehicle fluids. Then sweep it into a bag and throw it in the trash. Don't leave these spills or wash them off pavement. They'll be flushed into the storm drains.
Do it under cover. Whenever possible, perform vehicle maintenance in a well-ventilated, but covered location (e.g., garage). This minimizes the potential for rainfall to wash those inevitable spills and drips into our lakes and streams.
Remember, you’re not just fertilizing your lawn...
Storm drains found in our streets and yards empty into our lakes and streams. So, when we fertilize our lawn we could also be fertilizing our lakes and streams! While fertilizer is good for our lawn, it’s bad for our water. Fertilizer that enters our lakes and streams can cause algae to grow and use up oxygen that fish need to survive.
So what can you do to help? Simple.
Sweep it. Sweep excess fertilizer and grass clippings from pavement back onto your lawn so that they don’t wash into storm drains.
Buy low and go slow. First, find out if you even need fertilizer! Contact your Michigan State University Extension office to get a soil test. If you do need it, choose a fertilizer with no or low phosphorus--phosphorus causes algae growth. You can also use an organic or slow-release nitrogen fertilizer, which causes less harm to water.
Hire smart. Select a lawn care service that follows the practices noted above.
Mow high. Keep your lawn at three inches in height. Taller grass strengthens roots and shades out weeds. Also, remember that the nutrients from grass clippings left on your lawn act as a great fertilizer.
Make fertilizer-free zones. Keep fertilizer at least 20 feet away from the edge of any lakes, streams, or storm drains.
For more easy steps on protecting our lakes, rivers, and streams, visit www.semcog.org or contact Mark St. Charles at Green Oak Township 810-231-1333 ext. 102. Remember, our water is our future and it’s ours to protect!