Stormwater Education & Water Quality Protection
Sediment, which smothers aquatic life and transports pathogens and other pollutants, is the number one pollutant in North Carolina streams and waterways.
Stormwater pollution comes from many sources, and its control is everyone's responsibility. The following is a general outline and guide to ways that you can reduce stormwater impact on our water quality. For more information, or to report stream pollution, please contact the Randolph County Planning Department.
Protecting Water Quality - It's Everyone's Responsibility
As water flows over land, it collects soil, pet wastes, fertilizers, oils and other pollutants. Even if your house is not near a stream or river, the runoff will flow down the street into a ditch or storm drain that eventually empties into a stream or lake, taking soil and pollutants along with it.
By making wise decisions in your yard about lawn care and chemical disposal, you can protect our water quality. Better water quality means protected sources of drinking water and a safe environment for you and your family.
Responsible Lawn Care
Pesticides and fertilizers can improve the appearance of the landscape; however, improper use of those chemical can impair water quality. To determine which nutrients are needed, have the soil tested. Soil test kits are available at County Cooperative Extension Centers.
Follow these tips to protect water quality:
- Use fertilizer and pesticides sparingly.
- Keep fertilizer off of paved surfaces. Sweep it back onto the lawn.
- Don't fertilize before a rainstorm.
- Don't bag grass. Leave it on the lawn to reduce the need to fertilize.
- Mow at the proper height. Fescue thrives at 3 inches. Mowing any closer will create favorable conditions for weeds.
Proper Disposal of Trash & Chemicals
Don't litter. Litter is one of the most unsightly forms of pollution in our local waterways and can easily be prevented. Carry a bag for waste along in the car to eliminate the temptation to throw it out the window. Use and ashtray for ashes and cigarette butts, and properly dispose in the trashcan periodically.
Proper chemical disposal is important for health and safety. Be sure to take chemicals such as paint, furniture stripper, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, oil, car batteries and antifreeze to the local Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site for disposal.
Automotive Care & Maintenance
Fluid spills and improper disposal of materials result in pollutants entering streams and lakes. Here are some ideas to protect our waterways during vehicle maintenance.
- Drip pans and draining boards should be used to capture solvents and oils for proper disposal.
- Use as little water as possible to clean spills, leaks and drips by using rags and dry absorbent material such as kitty litter.
- Promptly take all fluids and batteries to the proper facility for disposal.
- Do not pour waste onto the ground or into storm drains.
When cars are washed in driveways and parking lots, the dirty wash water finds it's way into the drainage system and ultimately into streams and lakes. Wash water contains pollutants such as: oils and grease, phosphates (from the soap), and heavy metals, all of which have negative effects on water quality.
Wash your car in the grass. The ash water will be treated by the soil, and the grass will benefit from the water.
An alternative is to wash your car at a commercial car wash. There, the dirty wash water enters the sanitary sewer system where it is treated before being released back into the stream.
Pick Up After Your Pets
Animal waste contributes harmful bacteria to local waters. These bacteria can pose health risks to humans and other animals, and result in the spread of disease.
When going for dog walks, take a few small bags and one large zip-lock bag. When doggie makes a deposit, turn a baggie inside out over your hand and use like a glove to pick up the waste. Transfer it to the larger bag and drop it in the trash when you get home.
Another option is to bring a "poop-scoop" and plastic bags along and deposit waste in public garbage cans along the way.
Septic System Maintenance
Poorly maintained septic systems can harm water quality by leaking raw sewage into surface water runoff.
Signs that your system is not working properly include: wet areas or areas of lush green growth in your lawn, sewage odors, slow draining of pipes or backup of wastewater into your home, or ponding of wastewater onto the ground surface.
Try these tips for better septic system performance:
- Have your septic tank pumped every three to five years to extend the life of your system.
- Don't put chemicals into your septic system. Household chemicals kill the good bacteria that help your septic system work.
- Divert roof drains and runoff away from the septic system area to keep extra water off.
- Sixteen times more Stormwater runoff is produced by a one-acre parking lot compared to a one-acre meadow.
- A single quart of motor oil dumped down a storm sewer creates a two-acre oil slick.
- Seventy million pounds of active pesticide ingredients are applied to lawns in our country each year.
- On average, ten pounds of nitrogen are discharged to ground water from a properly operating septic system per person using the system each year.
- Three billion fecal coliform bacteria are produced by an average sized dog dropping. More than 30,000 pounds of dog waste are produced each day in Forsyth, Guilford, and Randolph counties combined.
- Over one million acres of land are converted to urban use in the U.S. each year.
- 27,200 gallons of water fall on a one-acre yard during a one-inch rainfall.
- Recent research has discovered that urban stream quality begins to sharply decline once impervious cover in a watershed, such as streets, driveways, sidewalks and rooftops, exceeds ten percent.
- Sediment, which smothers aquatic life and transports pathogens and other pollutants, is the number one pollutant in North Carolina streams.
Remember, for more information, or to report stream pollution, please contact the Randolph County Planning Department.