The Challenges of Polluted Runoff

How you can help improve water quality

When it comes to reducing polluted runoff, every little effort counts – and there’s plenty you can do to help. Keep your street and storm drain clear of grass clippings and leaves by raking and sweeping frequently. Instead of washing your car in the driveway, wash it on the lawn. Many of the cleaning solutions used for washing cars contain nutrients that could benefit your lawn but negatively impact our clean water supply.

Lastly, don’t let downspouts empty onto hard surfaces like sidewalks and driveways. Instead, direct them onto your lawn where the water can be absorbed. Even better, collect your runoff by installing a rainwater tank, also known as a rain barrel, which captures and stores rain water runoff. The stored water can then be used for watering plants, washing your car or even flushing your toilet.

Another easy way to make a difference is to plant a tree – the leaves, pine needles, twigs and other organic matter in trees absorb rainfall, and the roots hold the soil in place to promote infiltration.

Lastly, if you must fertilize your lawn, sample your soil so you can learn how much and which blend of fertilizer to use. This ensures you don’t use more fertilizer than necessary – plus, it saves you money! Avoid fertilizers containing phosphorus, since this chemical element accelerates algae growth in our water resources.

Want more ways to get involved? The National Aquarium has formed partnerships with various organizations throughout the Bay region to restore tidal wetlands through cleanups and grass plantings. Join us on May 9 and 10 for shoreline planting at Masonville Cover, or May 16 and 17 for sand dune restoration at Virginia Beach. To learn more about upcoming conservation events, visit aqua.org/conservation-events.

Additional Resources:

National Aquarium, Conserve Natural Resources
City of Minnetonka, Five easy ways to improve water quality
Kennebec County Soil & Water Conservation District, 10 things you can do to improve water quality

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November 18th, 2014- Eastern Neck NWR Tree Planting