Effects of Pollution

Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people. 

  • Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats. 
  • Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary. 
  • Debris (plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts) washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life. 
  • Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water. 
  • Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.

Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged, untreated, into the water bodies people use for swimming, fishing, and drinking water.

Pollution Solutions

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.

Lawn Care 

  • Don't over water the lawn. Consider using a drip system or soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. 
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts.
  • Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible. 
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Don't leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains and streams. 
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects.

Pet Waste

Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters. When walking pets, pick up their waste and dispose of it properly. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.

Auto Care

Washing cars 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. 

  • Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash the car on the yard so the water infiltrates into the ground. 
  • Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations. 

Additional Resources