Eight Simple Steps to Protect Water Quality

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It’s National Water Quality Month — a perfect time to learn what you can do to help protect the sources we all rely on for clean, high-quality water. Here are eight easy steps that you can take to make a difference today:

Wash your car at a car wash: Even though it might cost more than washing your car at home, taking your car to a car wash saves water and prevents toxic chemicals from being flushed down your storm drains that eventually empty into our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans. Some re-use the water, but professional car washes are required to drain into sewer systems so that the water can be treated.

Pick up after your pet: Animal waste contains harmful organisms like e. coli, salmonella, and giardia. If you don’t pick up after your pet, the storm waters could wash these pollutants into our waterways. Animals waste is also high in nitrogen, which can cause algae blooms that, when they rot, deplete the oxygen in water — killing fish and other aquatic organisms.

Limit — or eliminate — the use of chemical fertilizers: After a heavy rainfall or watering, these chemicals can leach into nearby ground- and surface-water sources, causing nutrient pollution. Use organic materials, like compost, instead — or wait for drier weather if you absolutely must use lawn care products.

Do not flush expired or unwanted medication down the toilet: These products should never be flushed down the drain. Lehigh County has several collection options for safe disposal.

Take used oil or antifreeze to a service station or recycling center. Don’t let these toxins run into a storm drain, where they will be washed into our rivers and streams. Promptly repair any vehicle leaks, too.  

Avoid using antibacterial soaps or cleaning products. Not only are they toxic to marine life, studies have found they actually contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dispose of chemicals such as paints, bug/pest repellants, and other hazardous wastes properly. Our local municipalities have regular collection events to help ensure these toxins don’t end up in our waterways.

Dispose of fishing line, hooks, packaging, and bait cups in the trash. Not only are these unsightly along the banks of our waterways, they harm wildlife.