Water Pollution & Stormwater

Clean Water Tip #1: Scoop Your Dog's Poop

Clean Water Tip #1: Scoop Your Dog's Poop
You hate stepping in it. And fish hate swimming in it, too! Regularly scoop your dog's poop from public areas AND your back yard, before it washes into our waterways.
Pet waste left on grass or sidewalks doesn't stay there. Every time it rains, the waste breaks down and washes into our rivers. You can put the waste in those handy pet waste stations that are popping up everywhere, though any outside trash can is just fine. 

Clean Water Tip #2: Catch Your Rain

Clean Water Tip #2: Catch Your Rain
Capture the rain that falls on your property in a rain barrel, rain garden, or on the leaves of your trees and shrubs. You’ll reduce flooding and keep our waterways clean.
When rainwater runs across dirty areas (like streets, sidewalks, and construction sites), it carries that pollution into our waterways. When you keep that water onsite, you can use it yourself or let it soak into the ground or evaporate, instead of picking up trash and pollution on its way to the nearest waterway.  

Clean Water Tip #3: Test Your Soil and Read Your Fertilizer Labels

Clean Water Tip #3: Test Your Soil and Read Your Fertilizer Labels
Test your soil and read the label before you apply fertilizer. If you use too much fertilizer, the excess will just wash away in the next rain, polluting your local waterways. 
If you need to use fertilizer, slow release and phosphorous-free fertilizer are safer for the environment. And if your yard doesn't need fertilizer, there's plenty that you can do each spring. You can spread fresh grass seed, aerate your soil, and plant some of those native shrubs you've been eyeing. 

Clean Water Tip #4: Bag or Compost Your Grass

Clean Water Tip #4: Bag or Compost Your Grass
In the spring, bag your grass clippings for curbside pickup. Even better, compost them to make a natural fertilizer for your garden. But whatever you do, don't dump them in a storm drain or leave them on the sidewalk!
When grass clippings decay in your composter, that's healthy fertilizer. But when they rot in our streams, that's water pollution! 

Clean Water Tip #5: Bag or Compost Your Leaves

Clean Water Tip #5: Bag or Compost Your Leaves
After enjoying the fall foliage, bag your leaves for curbside pickup, or mulch them. But whatever you do, don't dump them in a storm drain or leave them on the sidewalk!
Mulched leaves make great fertilizer. But when they rot in our streams, that's water pollution!

Do your part for cleaner water and a healthier environment.

Every time you turn on the faucet, you have a local waterway to thank for the clean water that comes flowing out. And every time your kids or pets play in a river or lake, they're enjoying rainwater that landed on a home, business, street, or sidewalk somewhere upstream from your location.

When our ancestors first built their mills in this area, those waterways were surrounded by vast forests and the waterways were sparkling clean. But today, our waterways are surrounded by buildings, roads, parking lots, and farm fields. And our waterways just aren't as clean as they could be. But if everybody does their part and takes some simple steps to make a difference, our rivers could be clean and sparkling again!

What else can you do?

Minimize Salt and De-icer use

Keep our rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams clean --  Use de-icer smartly and sparingly!

When the snow melts, do you ever wonder where all that salt and de-icer goes? You guessed it! It flows over our driveways, sidewalks, and roads, into the nearest catch basin, and directly (untreated!) into our waterways.

What’s wrong with salt and de-icer in our water?

SALT in our fresh water is not good for plants, wildlife, or people. Birds can mistake salt crystals for food, eating them and getting sick. Salt can be toxic to fish and others in aquatic systems. Salt is not good for our plants, and in many wetlands salt-tolerant invasives are crowding out our native vegetation, which then affects the wildlife that lose their food sources. And of course salt in our water supplies is not good for us -- we all know that salt is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Salt includes sodium chloride, as well as calcium and magnesium chloride.

Some use SAND, and while it doesn’t carry chemicals into our waterways, it does clog catch basins and cause flooding. It can also carry other pollutants into our waterways. If used, excess sand should be swept up.

DE-ICER is a preferable alternative to both salt and sand, but it is still not perfect, and should be used smartly and sparingly. De-icers include Sodium or Potassium Acetate and Calcium Magnesium Acetate.

What can YOU do to keep your pavement safe while also keeping your water clean?

  • Use de-icer (sodium acetate, potassium acetate, and calcium magnesium acetate) instead of salt (sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride).
  • Shovel early and often. Remove as much snow and ice as you can, and only use de-icer on what you can’t take care of with a shovel.
  • Follow product instructions and only use as much de-icer as you need. More is not better.
  • For heavy snowfalls, shovel early and often to avoid the snow compacting and forming ice.
  • For wet snow or sleet and freezing rain, apply de-icer product early on to prevent snow from bonding or ice from building up.

Manage leaves and grass, clear storm drains

Leaves and grass clippings that are dumped or stored near waterways or paved areas add to water pollution and clog storm drains causing flooding.

Here is what you can do about it:

  • Place raked leaves or lawn clippings in paper bags to be collected by the town.

  • Consider composting yard waste.

  • Keep paved areas and storm drains clear of leaves.

  • Keep bagged, piled and mulched leaves on natural soil, a few feet back from paved areas.

  • Ensure that your lawn service is properly disposing of yard waste.

  • Reduce excessive lawn chemical use and always follow manufacturer’s directions.