Protect Water Quality
|Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA-NRCS
||Photo courtesy USFWS
||Photo courtesy NOAA
The nation’s waterways are in trouble. According to the EPA, approximately 40 percent of recently surveyed rivers, lakes, and estuaries have water quality problems (See 2000 National Water Quality Inventory http://www.epa.gov/305b/2000report/). Runoff from water flowing over the land and picking up contaminants, known as non-point source pollution, is a leading cause of water quality degradation - tainting drinking water supplies, swimming holes, fisheries, and the health of native habitat and wildlife.
Agriculture, forestry, grazing, urban runoff, and construction, are all contributors to water pollution — and so potentially is your yard. The pollutants that find their way into streams after a rainfall, or after you wash your car or water the grass, include excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from lawns and gardens. In addition, sediment from eroded banks and slopes, salt, engine oil, spilled gasoline from driveways and other impervious surfaces, leakage from septic systems, pet waste, and any other substance that falls in our yard can contaminate local rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters.
Each individual household may not produce enough pollution to force a beach closing or cause a fish kill, but the combined output of all the homes in a community can be severe. And, consider that about half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline where runoff flows quickly to the ocean. This is why watershed protection — attention not only to the body of water but the area that drains into it — is important.
Learn which watershed you live in, (locate your watershed at this web site: http://cfpub.epa.gov/surf/locate/index.cfm) and begin doing your part to prevent runoff pollution. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help our waters.
Protect water quality! Click here for our action plan and further resources.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2002 was the EPA “Year of Clean Water” and there are numerous useful resources on this site with information on the protection of water and the prevention of source point pollution
Cornell Cooperative Extension
The Home Owners Lawn Care Water Quality Almanac – Learn About the Hydrological Cycle
North Carolina State University
NCSU Cooperative Extension Service Managing Lawns and Gardens to Protect Water Quality
Montana State University
Living on the Land Stewardship of Small Acreage