Help Turn the Tide On Water Pollution
For most Americans access to clean water seems as simple as turning on the kitchen tap. We do not have to think much about where this water comes from, or what happens to it after it swirls down the drain. The unfortunate reality, however, is nearly one-third of the human population does not have access to safe drinking water (as reported by the World Health Organization). With a constantly growing population and industrialization that stresses our water resources, we must all work together to take action to protect the quality of our water supply. While it may not seem like your individual efforts will make much of an impact, the collective efforts of 7.7 billion people definitely will!
What can you do?
Here are seven ways that you can make sure that waterways stay clean and free from water pollution!
Never dump anything directly into a storm drain.
Stormwater pollution is the leading threat to the quality of our waterways. Storm drains are located along roadways and help to collect rainwater and, depending on where you live, direct the stormwater to local streams, rivers, and reservoirs. Heavy rainstorms carry harmful pollutants from lawns (like herbicides and pesticides) and roads (think brake fluid, oil, tire debris) which is then directed into the storm drain. So what can you do to reduce to keep stormwater and our local streams and rivers clean? Reduce or discontinue the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Stormwater runoff does not get treated and enters our waterways with everything it collects along the way like chemicals and litter.
Plant a rain garden.
Strategically placed rain gardens help intercept and absorb rainwater from storms that would otherwise be directed into a storm drain. The plants and soil help to filter pollutants that have been washed from the pavement and other hard surfaces and prevent the pollution from being channeled to streams and lakes. The EPA has great information on how to get started.
Consider switching to non-plastic reusable items and make sure to properly recycle your plastic waste.
80% of ocean debris comes from activities on land and 90% of that is plastic. Plastics break down into smaller pieces called micro-plastics that cause considerable harm to our ecosystems. The Smyrna Recycling Center offers recycling services for a range of items to the community at no cost.
Properly dispose of hazardous waste.
Motor oil, anti-freeze, and cooking oil can be disposed of at the Smyrna Recycling Center. Paint and household chemicals (pesticides, cleaners, herbicides) can be disposed of at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials.
Be mindful of what you dump or rinse down your drains.
Contaminants can build up and degrade the quality of our water supply and affect the health and reproductive capabilities in aquatic organisms. Everything we pour down our drains or apply to our lawns and gardens will end up in our water supply eventually. Wastewater treatment facilities are designed to remove contaminants from the wastewater they receive but the process is not designed to remove heavy metals or pesticides. Check out our post on DIY Household Cleaners to find out how to make your own eco-friendly alternatives.
Dispose of unused medications where facilities are available.
The City of Smyrna Police Department now has a safe and secure permanent drop off box that is located in the lobby at the police station. Drugs can be dropped off with no questions asked.
Keep Smyrna Beautiful has ways for you to volunteer. River’s Alive is an annual event \where volunteers work together to collect litter from our local waterways. You can also get involved by helping to monitor the quality of local waterways through the Adopt-a-Stream program or get a group together to mark stormdrains in your neighborhood. Volunteering is a great way to get connected to nature and see how we can come together as a community to make an impact in the health of our shared environment.
By: Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth is serving as an intern with Keep Smyrna Beautiful for the Fall 2019 semester. She is currently studying environmental geosciences at Georgia State University with focuses on water science and sustainability. She is passionate about protecting and preserving the earth’s natural resources and hopes to share proactive ways that we can all contribute to creating a healthier, more sustainable planet.