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Polluted storm water runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people.
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Storm water runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent storm water from naturally soaking into the ground.
Storm water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, river or wetland. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is untreated and discharged into the water bodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water.
Recycle or properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, and solvents, and used motor oil and other auto fluids. Don't pour them onto the ground or into storm sewers.
Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to streams.
Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the storm sewer system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a water body.
Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by storm water and discharged into nearby waterbodies. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns.
Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters.
When walking your pet remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.
Changes and improvements to residential landscaping can prevent pollution caused by storm water runoff.