You can decrease the amount pollutants headed into our streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
Here are a few small actions you can take that will make a big difference:
- Slow the Flow — turn downspouts so outflow is away from non-absorbent surfaces (like driveways and sidewalks). Let the rain flow onto grass areas to help filter the runoff to slow the flow. You can also install a rain barrel and use that water to nourish your plants. This keeps run-off from rooftops from becoming a part of that first flush that causes so much erosion.
- Refrain from the Drain — Storm drains are for water only. Never use them to dispose of pet waste, grass clipping, motor oils, or any trash.
- Stash the Trash — Trash discarded on parking areas, beside roads and other open areas is washed into local streams. Pick up and proper dispose of trash whenever possible.
- Enable the Label — Test your soil to check nutrients. You may be able to reduce the amount of fertilizer you spread. Always follow the instruction label on fertilizer and other outdoor products. Over fertilization does not help your plants and increases nitrogen and phosphorus level in local streams.
- Scoop the Poop — Always clean up after your pet. Bacteria left in your yard or common areas will have a negative effect on our waterways.
- Quash the Wash — Use a commercial car wash whenever possible. If you must wash your car at home, try to park it on a grassy area or use phosphate free car detergents.
- Landfill the Pill — Dispose of your medications in the household trash – do not flush them down the toilet. Our wastewater treatment plants cannot remove the chemicals from unused medications.
The Chesapeake Bay has more than 11,600 miles of shoreline, which is more than the entire west coast of the U.S. It is 200 miles long and ranges from 4 miles to 30 miles wide making it the largest estuary in the country. Approximately 51 billion gallons of water flow into the Bay each day from its freshwater tributaries. There are 8,800 miles of streams, creeks and rivers in Maryland that drain into the Chesapeake Watershed, and a few of them run through or near our neighborhoods. That means the fertilizer we spread on our lawns and gardens along with the storm water that flows from our properties and pet waste impacts the Bay.
Howard County has a variety of projects to reduce storm water runoff, a major source of pollutants in the Bay. In fact, 20% of the pollutants come from storm water alone. One action to decrease pollutants in the Bay is to “slow the flow.” When storm water has time to soak into the ground many of the nutrients stay in the soil instead of rushing into storm drains and on into creeks and streams.
The County has partnered with the University of Maryland to create the Watershed Stewards Academy. The purpose is to educate residents about the issue and to encourage action-oriented solutions to help “slow the flow.”