Clear Choices, Clean Water Pledge
The purpose of this campaign is to increase awareness about the choices we make and their impact on our streams and lakes. By educating citizens and encouraging individuals in Indiana to be their own water quality advocates we can work towards a healthy population and clean environment.
There are four pledges one can take relate to: (1) Lawn Fertilizer (2) Pet Poo and Other Piles (3) Native Plants and Gardens (4) Septic Systems
Check out their website to see how you can make a difference!
Tips for Your Property
Below are some easy to follow tips that can be followed to improve your storm water quality.
In Your Yard or Garden
- Plant a Rain Garden with Native Plants
Rain gardens are planted in a depression and designed to collect water and encourage infiltration into the ground. Visit the rain garden page to learn how to plant one of your own!
- Practice Sustainable Lawn Care
This website by Earth Easy has great tips and info for environmentally friendly lawn and garden care. Short, but in depth explanations make the purpose of natural lawn care clear and relevant. Includes basis, watering guidelines and lawn care facts.
- Practice Dry Cleanup Methods When Cleaning Your Driveway or Sidewalk
By using a broom instead of a hose, debris will be prevented from entering storm drain inlets and eventually streams. Also, use cat litter to soak up leaked oil, which can be then thrown away in the trash once dry.
A rain barrel is usually a 55 gallon drum that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.
Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District have rain barrels in stock from Upcycle Products. Rain barrels are $75 plus tax and pedestals are $25 plus tax. Call them at 812-334-4325 x115 if you would like to purchase one.
A soil test is an informative way to determine the quality of your soil. The laboratory will test soil pH, nutrient content, and percentage of organic matter. From these results, you can determine exactly what nutrients your lawn and garden need, which will help minimize the use of chemical which can runoff into streams.
Many private labs in and around Indiana offer a range of soil testing services. Contact the lab of your choice before submitting your samples. Purdue University Extension is a good resource for information on labs: check out their website. Also, UMass has a soil testing service.
- Minimize Your Use of Pesticides and Fertilizers
They can be easily washed off your property by rain and into streams. If you must use chemicals, use those that are the least toxic, follow the directions carefully, and use as small amounts as possible.
- Use Phosphorus-Free Lawn Fertilizers
Phosphorus runoff from lawns is washed into streams and lakes, where it encourages algae growth. But only newly-seeded lawns or phosphorus-deficient soils (as indicated by testing) require phosphorus. When buying lawn fertilizer, look for the three numbers on the bag and choose products where the middle number is zero. This indicates that the fertilizer does not contain phosphorus (the other numbers indicated the amount of nitrogen and potassium, respectively).
- When Painting, Do Not Rinse Brushes Off in the Lawn or Dump Extras into Storm Drains
Instead, rinse brushes and rollers off in a sink or tub, and drop your extra paint off at the household hazardous waste facility for reuse.
- Clean Up Immediately After Your Pets and Throw the Waste into the Trash
Otherwise, disease causing pathogens in the waste can be transferred directly into streams.
- Dispose of Lawn Waste in Compost Piles and Use a Mulching Mower
Never place leaves or other lawn debris in waterways because it will cause a decrease in oxygen in waterways, killing fish.
- Reduce the Amount of Paved Area and Increase the Amount of Vegetated Area in Your Yard
Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces onto lawns and other measures to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff.
To maximize the health of your lawn while minimizing the risk to your local waterways.
In Your Garage
- Maintain Your Vehicle so That it Doesn't Leak Oil and Antifreeze on the Ground
Park your car over a piece of cardboard overnight to see what and how much fluid might be leaking. If so, get it fixed, or continue to soak up leaking fluids at night with a mat that can be eventually thrown away.
- When Changing Fluids, Do Not Dump the Fluids into the Gutter or Lawn
The fluid from one oil change can pollute up to a million gallons of fresh water. Instead, recycle the fluids and filters at one of the many transfer stations provided by the Monroe County Solid Waste District. Call the MCSWD at 349-2950.
- Do Not Wash Cars, RVs, or Boats in Your Driveway
The detergent laden water runs into storm drains and then into creeks. Remember, soap destroys dirt and organisms, it will do the same in creeks. Instead, go to a full or self serve car wash because the water used there is cleaned in a waste water treatment plant. Also you can wash your car in your lawn so that the soap absorbs into the ground.
In Your Community
- Get a Group Together and Stencil Storm Drain Inlets
Know where the stormwater goes in your neighborhood and mark it with a "don't dump, drains to river" message. Visit the Bloomington Utility's storm drain marking program website to learn more.
- Report Any Illegal Dumping into Storm Drainage Inlets
Examples include, soil running off of construction sites into drains or falling septic systems
To anonymously report possible pollution, click here.
- Adopt a Storm Drain in Your Neighborhood
You can do this by yourself or with neighbors cleaning away debris from drains after storm events.
Swimming Pool Maintenance
- Drain Your Swimming Pool Only When a Test Kit Does Not Detect Chlorine Levels
Chlorinated water is very harmful to stream life.
- Drain Your Pool or Spa Into a Sanitary Sewer System
- Properly Store Pool and Spa Chemicals
To help prevent leaks and spills, preferably in a covered area to avoid exposure to storm water.
Septic System and Sewer Maintenance
- Have Your Septic System Inspected
At least every 3 years by a professional, and have the septic tank pumped as necessary - usually every 3 to 5 years.
- Care for the Septic System Drain Field
Do not drive or park vehicles on it. Plant only grass over and near the drain field to avoid damage from roots.
Flushing household chemicals like paint, pesticides, oil, and antifreeze can destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system. Other items, such as diapers, paper towels, and cat litter, can clog the septic system and potentially damage components.