Keeping Your Stream Healthy
KNOW WHAT’S HARMFUL TO STREAMS
of Wisconsin, 1999
Motor oil and antifreeze
in low concentrations these automotive products are extremely toxic to
other aquatic wildlife (one gallon of gasoline can contaminate five
gallons of water). Never
dump gasoline, motor
oil, antifreeze, battery acid, or other
automotive fluids into a stream or storm drain. Place used
motor oil or
antifreeze in sturdy, sealed containers, caps taped down, and recycle
your local collection program or recycling depot. Many communities have
curbside oil recycling collection or antifreeze collection services.
your local Environmental Management Council, Soil and Water
District, or Cooperative Extension for more information about recycling
Paints, thinners, and other solvents
disposed paint products also cause harm to fish, wildlife, and people.
leftover paints, or share with a friend or neighbor. Dispose of
and paint products at your local household hazardous waste facility. Do
clean brushes in a gutter or near a storm drain or stream. Use
latex paints whenever possible. They are less toxic than oil-based
and turpentine -- and they can be recycled. Small amounts of leftover
be air-dried in cans and discarded in the garbage. Paint thinners
filtered and re-used. Dispose of residue at a hazardous waste
facility or event – contact the Dutchess County Resource Recovery
Never dump water from carpet
stream or storm drain.
cleaning chemicals are detrimental to streams. If you purchase
carpet cleaner you can dispose of it down the toilet.
If not, you should dispose of the waste at
your local household hazardous waste clean-up day.
If you use the services of a carpet cleaning
company, make sure they do not dispose of the water in a stream or
Avoid hosing down paved surfaces
your car on a paved
driveway or street.
biodegradable soaps are toxic to fish and wildlife. Wash cars on a lawn
unpaved area, or use a commercial car wash.
If your wash water is allowed to run down the street it will
find its way into a storm drain and the local water body.
automobile spills using "dry" clean-up methods.
Use cat litter or other absorbent materials to remove
spills from paved surfaces. Depending on the substance spilled, dispose
absorbent materials in the garbage can or at a hazardous waste
If you must use water in a final clean-up step, direct the flow to a
-- not the street, gutter, or storm drain.
Again, the residential storm drain network (gutter, streets, and
drains) are designed to carry water to your local water body.
Practice stream-safe swimming pool
and copper algaecides used in pools and spas are toxic to aquatic
wildlife. Pool and spa water should never be drained to the street,
storm drain. Contact your local wastewater treatment plant before
this water into the sewer line.
best way to drain your pool or spa is to let the chlorine dissipate by
the water to sit for up to two weeks and then drain onto landscaping.
cannot allow the pool to sit, add sodium bisulfate in the amount
the label. Do not use copper-based algaecides. Proper chlorination
care of algae problems. If you use a
service, discuss safe pool
cleaning methods with them.
storing roof runoff
(Ecocity Cleveland, 2003)
Check rain gutters and other
where they drain. Make sure
they do not carry water directly into a nearby stream.
from roof surfaces contributes to the decline of stream health. Pipes
projecting directly into a stream bank or flexible pipes allowed to
a bank cause erosion. Consider using cisterns, on-site filtration
areas), or gray-water systems to capture roof run-off.
This will also allow for the filtration of
toxic roof chemicals before they reach the local stream or lake.
Carefully remove trash,
dumped debris from the
Unfortunately, some people think of streams as garbage
dumps. You don’t have to look far to find old shopping carts, used
mattresses, car parts, bottles, cans, plastic, styrofoam and paper
debris can become a hazard during floods. It can be a potential threat
groundwater quality and provide breeding places for rodents and
you need help cleaning up the stream, contact some of the organizations
on the back page for ideas and assistance.
Test your underground storage tank
If your home has an UST for heating oil, this is a
potential source of water pollution. Early leak detection is your best
protection against costly clean-ups and sickness. A tank tightness test
be performed periodically, especially on older tanks and those near a
Signs of a leak are unusual amounts of water in the tank, unusual odors
water supply, petroleum in the basement, malfunctioning heating
or dying vegetation near tanks or an increase in fuel use.
Practice Proper Septic System
Maintenance is the best way to keep a system working properly
for a long time.
Septic System Maintenance Tips
Know the components of your septic system; keep heavy
vehicles away from the system.
Don’t plant trees or shrubs near drain tiles since
their roots can clog drain lines.
Dispose of household chemicals properly – do not pour
them down the toilet or drain; they can destroy the bacteria in your
Distribute your laundry chores throughout the week to
avoid overloading the system on any given day.
Don’t use garbage disposals. They
contribute unnecessary solids and grease
to your septic system.
Conserve water whenever and wherever possible.
Don’t use toilets as trash cans.
Avoid septic tank additives, there is no scientific
evidence that additives are effective.
Monitor your septic tank yearly and have a reputable
contractor remove sludge three to five years.
This will help avoid overloading your system and the costly
follow (look in yellow pages under septic for a list of local haulers).
on the surface of the absorption field should be mowed regularly to
evapotranspiration and transpiration.
For more tips on Septic Systems, visit
this EPA page.
EMC materials developed by Dave Burns, Watershed Coordinator, Dutchess County Environmental