Did you know that a typical city block generates more than five times as much rainwater runoff as a forested area of the same size? This is because rooftops and pavement don’t allow water to soak into the ground like forests, wetlands and grasslands do. Instead, rainwater runs off pavement into the nearest storm drain, where it’s transported to local streams, rivers and eventually the ocean. On its way to the storm drain, rainwater picks up pollutants like oil, antifreeze, pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides. In most places, storm water does not get treated, so all of those pollutants end up in local waters.
A storm drain clogged with yard debris; instead, keep the drains in your street clear to prevent excess sediment and pollution from reaching your local river.
Viewer Tip: Give these tips a try to protect water quality where you live.
- Keep leaves and grass clippings out of streets and storm drains. Use them as mulch or compost in your garden.
- Keep trash out of streets and storm drains. Make sure trash cans have tight-fitting lids.
- Always pick up after your pet.
- Use fertilizer and pesticide sparingly. Read the label and wait for dry weather to apply.
- Plant native trees and shrubs. Their roots help absorb and filter pollutants from rain water.
(Sources: U.S. EPA, Urban Nonpoint Source Fact Sheet, http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/urban_facts.cfm; Nutrient Pollution, What You Can Do, http://www2.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/what-you-can-do)