Best Management Practices to Prevent Environmental Pollution
When we think of environmental pollution, we most often conjure up images of smoking factories, toxic waste dumps and oil spills. What we don't realize, however, is that the leading cause of water quality problems is from pollutants that don’t originate from a single source or enter waterways at a particular site.
This type of widespread pollution, called nonpoint source pollution, occurs when rainfall, snowmelt or irrigation runs over land, picks up pollutants and deposits them into streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater. In urban areas, this most often happens when runoff from hard surfaces, such as streets, parking lots and buildings, washes pollutants into storm drains. Unlike wastewater, which is treated before it is released, stormwater flows untreated into local waterways.
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Currently stormwater runoff is not treated before entering our rivers and streams. We must do our part to prevent pollution from entering our waterways and protect aquatic life. Simple activities that can be done to prevent stormwater runoff pollution are:
Properly Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste. The City of Mishawaka, in conjunction with St. Joseph County, operates a household hazardous waste disposal center facility located at 1105 E. Fifth St. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and is open to all St. Joseph County residents. For more information, contact the Mishawaka Street Department at 574.258.1660 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Never dump anything down storm drains!
Limit Use of Pesticides and Lawn Fertilizers. Follow manufacturer’s direction when using chemicals and apply only the recommended amount. Don't spread chemicals on your lawn if a storm or heavy rain is in the forecast. Landscaping with disease and pest-resistant plants can reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
Practice Conservation in Landscaping and Lawn Care. Altering the natural contours of your yard during landscaping, and planting nonnative plants that need fertilizer and extra water can increase the potential for runoff and soil erosion. Grasses and natural ground cover can be attractive and practical substitutes for nonporous surfaces. Incorporating natural grasses, trees, wooden decks, crushed stone or brick paths, rain gardens and mulch into landscaping reduces runoff and prevents erosion by allowing rainwater to slowly seep into the ground. Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces. Additionally, don't rake leaves, grass clippings or litter into streets where they can enter storm drains or be washed into waterways. Instead compost your yard waste for use as mulch later.
Properly Dispose of Pet Waste. Pet waste is a significant source of bacteria and nutrients that lead to harmful algae and plant growth in waterways. Clean up pet waste in your yard or when walking your pet. The best way to dispose of pet waste is to bag it and place it in the trash
Prevent Automobile Fluid Leakage. Have your vehicle serviced regularly to prevent problems that lead to leakage. Clean up any spilled brake fluid, oil, grease and antifreeze from garages, driveways and streets. Do not hose these fluids or any cleanup residue into the street. If you change your own oil, be careful to avoid spills and collect waste oil for recycling. Take your vehicle to a car wash to prevent soaps and waxes from being washed into the storm drain. Car washes send dirty water to the wastewater treatment plant. If you wash your vehicle at home, wash it on the lawn, not the driveway.