Everyday household activities are a major source of polluted runoff, seriously jeopardizing our groundwater. Every time it rains, extra fertilizer on lawns, oil spilled on driveways, residue from paints and solvents used on walls and decks all end up contaminating our waterways as chemicals. Even the neighborhood’s pet population can contribute to the problem, when their owners neglect using their pooper-scooper. All of these organic and inorganic contaminants are washed into storm sewers or nearby lakes, rivers and streams — the same water we depend upon for drinking, bathing, swimming and fishing.
Without realizing it, you could be fouling your own drinking water. Unfortunately, cleaning up contaminated groundwater is costly and complicated. Here are some ways to care for the earth by protecting our water.
- Do not overuse household chemicals. Use nontoxic cleaners whenever possible.
- Recycle used antifreeze. Don’t dump into storm drains.
- Similarly, recycle—and don’t dump—used oil.
- Limit or eliminate the use of pesticides.
- Limit the use of lawn fertilizers, and be sure to use only phosphorus-free products. Use compost, manure, bone meal or peat whenever possible.
- Reduce paved areas to reduce the amount of water running off into storm grates.
- Buy products with less packaging, and reduce the amount of trash you create.
- Take advantage of recycling programs to lessen the amount of solid waste going into landfills.
- Report any spills or illegal dumping in designated drinking water protection areas.
- Keep pollutants away from boat marinas and waterways.
- Install a Backflow Protection Device for commercial properties.
- Check your underground fuel storage tank (USTs) frequently for leaks.
- Inspect your septic system every year. Have it cleaned every three to five years.
- Properly seal abandoned wells.
If we all do our part, we can make a difference in promoting the clean water we all need to live. For added security for you and your household, you can further reduce contaminants that may already be present in your area’s drinking water supply with a whole house filter system and/or a reverse osmosis system.