A rafting trip will be considerably less scenic if you're paddling through polluted water. Rain washes everything from lawn fertilizers to used motor oil into stormwater drains, which often empty into the nearest river, lake, or bay. To protect rivers, keep these five things out of the drain:
- Phosphorus, found in fertilizer and detergent, contributes to algal blooms, which rob fish of oxygen. Green your lawn with low-maintenance, native plants to reduce your reliance on fertilizers. Check the weather forecast, and don't fertilize if rain is expected. The Organization for the Assabet River lists phosphate-free and low-phosphate detergents.
Lawn clippings, like phosphates, can add an excess of nutrients to waterways, upsetting the natural balance. Compost lawn clippings or use a green-waste recycling program.
Hazardous chemicals should be dropped off at specified locations. Whenever possible, use non-hazardous alternatives; the EPA explains how to make your own non-toxic household cleaning products.
Medicine that has expired should not be flushed. In some rivers, fish are developing alarming deformities thought to be caused by pharmaceuticals in sewage. Find out if your local pharmacy has a take-back program, or follow these instructions for safe disposal of prescription drugs.
Oil leaks don't stay contained in a puddle on the driveway--a good rain will wash oil into the water system. Fix oil leaks and never pour oil down a drain, into a street, or into your yard. Earth 911 will help you find drop-off locations for used oil, batteries, and other environmental no-goods.
Sources: Missouri Department of Natural Resources, itwire, University of Minnesota, Grist, EPA, eHow, LSU Ag Center, City of Tacoma