10 Simple Things You Can Do
10 SIMPLE WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR WATERSHED
We all live in a watershed – an area of land where all surface water and groundwater drains to a common outlet point like a stream, river, wetland, lake or bay. No matter where you live, you are in a watershed. And what you do in your part of the watershed, from how you care for your yard to how you dispose of waste, affects the waterways into which it drains. Fortunately, there are simple actions each one of us can take to help protect our watersheds and waterways.
1) DON’T “P” IN THE WATER. Runoff containing too much phosphate (“P”) helps feed algae blooms and weed growth in area waterways. Use only phosphate-free automatic dishwasher detergents, deck cleaners and lawn fertilizers.
2) MINIMIZE WHAT YOU FERTILIZE. Nutrients from fertilizer run off can lead to excess plant and algae growth in waterways. Minimize your use of lawn and garden fertilizers and maintain a fertilizer-free buffer strip along shorelines.
3) SCOOP THE POOP. Pet waste left out in the yard, on sidewalks or on roadsides washes away when it rains and is a major contributor to bacteria problems in local waterways. Dispose of pet waste properly by putting it in a sealed bag in the trash, flushing it down the toilet, or burying it in your yard.
4) DON’T CLUTTER THE GUTTER. Our storm drains don’t go to a treatment plant – they discharge directly into the closest waterway! Don’t dump paint, motor oil, pesticides, cleaning products or other hazardous household materials into storm drains. Likewise, don’t sweep your lawn clippings or leaves into storm drains.
5) LET IT GROW. Don’t mow your lawn shorter than 2 ¾” to 3”. This will allow it to shade weeds and develop deeper, healthier roots. After mowing, leave your grass and leaf clippings on the lawn. They will decompose rapidly and naturally fertilize your lawn.
6) GET BUFF. Plant native trees and shrubs and establish a “no mow” zone along the shores of streams and lakes. These bufferstrips will help protect water quality, control erosion, filter storm water runoff and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat.
7) GO NATIVE. Add native plants to your landscape. They require less water and fertilizer and are more resistant to pests and disease since they are already adapted to local conditions.
8) HOLD BACK THE FLOOD. Impervious surfaces such as pavements and roofs cause rain to run off rapidly, which can cause flooding and stream bank erosion during rainstorms. Minimize runoff by redirecting downspouts into vegetated areas, installing rain barrels or planting a rain garden. Use the stored water for your garden and other landscaping.
9) GET PUMPED. Septic system failures can be costly and can contaminate groundwater and nearby surface waters. Have your septic system inspected and pumped every three years.
10) BE WATER WISE. Do your part to reduce the volume of wastewater from your home. Use low-flow faucets, showers, and toilets and repair any leaks. Take shorter showers, and turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full, and wash your car and water your lawn only when necessary. You will not only be conserving water but also saving money!
And don’t forget to GET INVOLVED by contacting your elected officials and ask them to adopt environmental legislation that protects water resources and supports land conservation and by joining and/or volunteering at your local watershed organization – like the CHAUTAUQUA WATERSHED CONSERVANCY!