August is National Water Quality Month


August is National Water Quality Month and water quality begins with our source waters, rivers, lakes, and ground water. It is important that we each do our part to protect our water supplies and keep our waterways clean for all living things so that we can continue to enjoy them for consumption and recreation.

National Water Quality Month - Only dump at designated DR sanitation-sewage pump stations.

Only dump at designated RV sanitation-sewage pump stations. We know you wouldn’t drive to the beach and empty your RV’s waste tank into the ocean. But did you know it is illegal to dump sewage into a storm drain? The sewage will end up in the ocean or contaminate our groundwater and the water we drink. We want RV owners to enjoy the environment while they’re here and leave it in good shape for their next visit. So, for your convenience, we’ve provided locations for legal, approved sewage disposal facilities. Please call the facility you are interested in to verify the hours of operation and the disposal fees.

National Water Quality Month - Clean up after your pets.

Clean up after your pets. One thing we can do is to clean up after our furry family members. When pet waste is disposed of improperly, not only does our water quality suffer – your health may be at risk, too. Pet waste is not the largest or most toxic pollutant in urban waterways, but it is one of the many little sources of pollution that together add up to a big problem. Fortunately the solution to this problem is easy. Scooping up and throwing away pet waste is a simple thing all responsible pet owners can do to help keep our water and environment clean.

National Water Quality Month - Used oil from a single change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water.

Dispose of used oil motor properly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), used motor oil from a single oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water – the equivalent of a year’s supply of fresh water for 50 people. Improper disposal of used oil, which includes oil leaking from cars, contributes significantly to stormwater pollution. The EPA estimates that American households improperly dump about 193 million gallons of used oil every year, or roughly the equivalent of 17 Exxon Valdez oil spills. The EPA recommends either having your oil changed at a facility where they properly dispose of it or taking it to a service station, car repair or quick lube facility where they will have it recycled/re-refined. Never, ever dump oil in the trash or down a storm drain where it will pollute water and soil.

National Water Quality Month - Always discharge boat sewage at designated pumpout stations, never in waterways or storm drains.

Always discharge boat sewate at designated pumpout stations, never in waterways or storm drains. As part of our nation-wide effort to protect our source waters, the Clean Water Act passed in 1972 included laws regarding proper fueling procedures to keep oil and gas out of our waterways. Accidental or not, under Federal law it is illegal to discharge any amount of fuel, oil or other petroleum product into the waters of the United States. Oil and fuel in the water can impact bottom sediment, marine life and shore birds. You are responsible for any environmental damage caused by your fuel spill. So… preventing spills will be beneficial for you and the boating environment!

In addition, in 1992 Congress passed the Clean Vessel Act to help reduce pollution from vessel sewage discharges into U.S. waters. The grant program established by the Act funds the construction, renovation, operation and maintenance of pump out and dump stations for use by recreational boaters.

National Water Quality Month - Use a commercial car wash instead of washing your car at home.

Use a car wash. Something to consider during National Water Quality month is the affect that washing our cars can have on our waterways. Car wash water and rinse water contain a mixture of detergents, oils, heavy metals and other pollutants that we wash off of our vehicles. This soapy, polluted water is untreated and can kill aquatic plants and animals. Don’t forget, a storm drain is the entrance to a system of underground pipes that collects and carries water from streets and parking lots, and discharges it untreated into the Santa Clara River, and then flow into the Pacific Ocean. All soaps, including biodegradable ones, can harm our waterways. Soaps break the surface tension of water, lowering the oxygen level which is harmful to fish and other aquatic life. The worst soaps contain phosphates, which can cause unwanted algae blooms in surface waters. And don’t forget — car wash water is a mixture or soap, oil, grease, and heavy metals.

A better option is to take your car to a commercial car wash facility that discharges its wash water to the sewer system, where it’s treated or recycled. When washing your car at home, use a hose with a shut-off valve and wash it on the lawn (or other vegetated area) to keep the soapy water out of the storm drain.   Mild, soapy water won’t hurt your lawn; it will actually water it!

National Water Quality Month - Do not flush baby wipes, cleansing cloths or sanitary wipes even if they say "flushable".

Do not flush wipes. Flushable wipes or cleansing wipes are becoming an increasingly popular bathroom accessory. Despite the fact that they’re marketed to be flushed like toilet paper, these wipes are creating clogs and backups in sewer systems around the nation. Anything labeled as flushable should start to break apart immediately during the flush and completely disperse within 5 minutes. Wipes, even those labeled flushable simply do not break down and they are causing serious clogs and back-ups in municipal sewage systems.

Any product capable of making it undispersed through a home’s plumbing system can clog pumps, pipes, and valves; overwhelm screens and bar racks; and block sewer mains, cause sewage overflows, require expensive repairs and replacement of pumps, screens, and other equipment, in collection systems, treatment plants, and septic systems.

So despite the “flushable” claim, throw these items away rather than flush them.

National Water Quality Month - Don't flush medications down the toilet.

Properly dispose of prescription medications. Don’t need the rest of those pills? Many people feel like they’re doing the safe thing, keeping meds out of the wrong hands, by flushing them, but it’s actually very dangerous. These drugs destroy bacteria, contaminate groundwater supplies and can have terrible effects on wildlife downstream. Check to find a place that will dispose of them properly.

National Water Quality Month - Don't dump cooking oil down the sink.

Do not dump cooking oil down the sink. Cease the grease! Grease congeals (a fancy word for turning into a solid) in your pipes the same way plaque builds up in your arteries. The buildup narrows your drain, causing it to clog frequently. Even if the grease makes its way through your home’s plumbing, it can cause huge problems in the city’s sewer lines. The fatty acids in the cooking oils combine with calcium and collect on the top of sewer lines when the sewer level rises. This creates ‘fatbergs’, or stalactites made of fat. It’s estimated that almost half of the up to 36,000 sewer overflows in the US each year are caused by oil buildup in sewers. When a sanitary sewer overflows, sewer water can make its way into streams, rivers and groundwater, tainting our drinking water supply.


National Water Quality Month - Please don't litter!

Please do not litter. Always throw your trash away in a trash can or recycle bin. When debris, such as plastic bags, bottles, dirty diapers, cigarette butts, is thrown on the ground, it gets washed into storm drains and directly into our waterways. In addition to potentially choking, suffocating, or disabling aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds, litter decreases oxygen levels in the water when it decays. Depending on the debris, harmful bacteria, viruses, chemicals and toxins can also get into the water, polluting it and making it unsafe for humans and animals. Litter is also one of the most unsightly forms of pollution in our local waterways and can easily be prevented. Most litter can be recycled, which not only protects the environment, it saves our natural resources.

So how can you help keep our waters clean?

  1. DO NOT LITTER! Carry a bag for waste along in the car to eliminate the temptation to throw it out the window or dump it in a parking lot.
  2. Put litter in your pocket until you find a recycling container or trash can.
  3. Recycle and reuse items whenever possible.
  4. Pick up ONE piece of litter every day! That’s 365 less pieces of litter on our streets, in our parks, and around our schools thanks to you.

Imagine if everyone picked up just one piece!

National Water Quality Month - Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly.

Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Fertilizers are commonly overused products containing nitrates and phosphates that cause plants and algae to grow or “bloom” in ponds or other waterways. That may sound nice, but fish need oxygen to live. When these algae die and decompose, oxygen is consumed leaving little or no oxygen for aquatic habit. This results in area fish kills. So always read the directions and take care to not over apply fertilizers and never apply fertilizers before a heavy rainfall.

Many products made to exterminate bugs and pests are also toxic to humans, animals, aquatic organisms, and plants. If you apply pesticides to plants properly, they can have a minimal impact to the environment. If pesticides are found in our waters, it is probably due to overuse or application at the wrong time. Please read pesticide labels carefully and use alternatives whenever possible.

National Water Quality Month - Always recycle plastics.

Always recycle plastics. Common trash from consumer goods makes up the majority of what eventually becomes marine debris, polluting our waterways and oceans. Plastics in the aquatic environment are of increasing concern because of their persistence and effect on the environment, wildlife, and human health. Chemicals associated with plastic trash include the accumulation and transport of contaminants which have been found to accumulate at concentrations that are (thousands to millions of times) greater than the surrounding environment. Based on a number of studies, including those conducted by the EPA, plastics have the potential to adsorb these chemical contaminants and transport them globally affecting the food chain and potentially humans who eat seafoods.

National Water Quality Month - Don't toss cigarette butts, throw them away.

If you smoke, please dispose of cigarettes responsibly. Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter in the world, as approximately 5.6 trillion cigarettes are smoked every year worldwide. Cigarette waste constitutes an estimated 30% of the total litter on US shorelines, waterways and on land. In fact, cigarette butts are the most common debris item collected along waterways during the Ocean Conservancy’s yearly International Coastal Cleanup. You can imagine with all of the cigarette butt litter on land and in the water, that the amount of arsenic, nicotine, hydrocarbons, heavy metals and other pollutants have a incredibly detrimental effect on our water ways and environment.