You Can Help Reduce Watershed Pollutants!
Did you know that the majority of the pollution in the Boise River is from nonpoint sources? This means that the problem isn't from a pipe--it's from general activities by everyday people. How can you help? Anyone can come to a meeting or volunteer at any level with the Lower Boise Watershed Council, or simply call us to schedule a presentation for your interest group.
Here are a few things you can do right now to improve water quality:
Makers: Pollution Prevention in the Public Arena
Do you know
where your stormwater goes? What ordinances are in place to prevent water
quality problems? How wastewater is treated? All of these issues come
into play at various levels in city and county government: from public
works to planning and zoning.
A good general
introduction to water
quality programs and policies in Idaho is on the Department of Environmental
Quality (DEQ) web site. The site includes a list of funding opportunities
and grants for water quality improvement projects.
Another way to protect water quality is to protect open space, and encourage development of wetlands. Land Trust of the Treasure Valley has information about creating open space partnerships to achieve multiple goals.
and Small Businesses: Pollution Prevention Practices
The main pollutants in our watershed are sediment, bacteria, and phosphorous.
You can reduce these pollutants every time you tend your lawn or take
your dog for a walk.
Apply Smart Landscaping Principles
phosphorous by applying fertilizers correctly to your landscaping. Keep
the fertilizer on the plants, not on the sidewalk.
- Try using
mulched lawn clippings instead of chemical fertilizers.
- Follow Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Lawn Care in Idaho, using guidelines
from the University of Idaho.
- Limit the amount of impenetrable surfaces in your landscape. Use permeable paving surfaces such as wood decks, bricks, and concrete lattice to let water soak into the ground.
- Allow thick vegetation or buffer strips to grow along waterways to slow runoff and soak up pollutants. Plant trees, shrubs, and ground cover. They will absorb up to 14 times more rainwater than a grass lawn and don't require fertilizer.
- Use natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you must use chemicals, test your soil to determine the right amount.
Reduce Pollutants while Doing Your Chores
- Try phosphate-free
laundry and dishwashing detergents.
- Don't hose down driveways or sidewalks. Dry sweeping paved areas, along with careful trash disposal, are simple, effective pollution reducers.
- Recycle all used motor oil by taking it to a service station or local recycling center. Motor oil contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and animals. Do not dump used motor oil down storm drains or on the ground.
- Wash your car on the grass so soapy water soaks into the ground. Use a hose nozzle to prevent water from running when not in use.
- If you have a septic system, have it pumped out every three to five years. This will allow your septic tank to operate efficiently.
- Place litter, including cigarette butts, in trash receptacles. Never throw litter in streets or down storm drains.
- Properly dispose of household hazardous wastes. Many common household products, (paint thinners, moth balls, drain and oven cleaners, etc.) contain toxic ingredients. When improperly used or discarded, these products are a threat to public health and the environment. Do not pour hazardous products down any drain or toilet. Do not discard with regular household trash.
Consider Clean Water on the Job and After Work
up after your pet. Based on a DNA
fingerprinting study of E. coli in the river system, pet waste accounts
for 22 percent of the total identifiable bacteria. Compare this to the
11 percent from livestock, or the 35 percent from waterfowl like ducks
and geese, and it's apparent that cleaning up after Fido can make a
runoff from your property or business. Make sure your sprinklers are
properly set, and consider xeriscaping.
- Compost grass clippings and leaves. Never allow them to wash into roadways where they will reach storm drains.
Take a Community-Wide Approach
- Get involved in the planning and zoning process in your community. That's where the decisions are made that shape the course of development and the future quality of our environment.
- Support preservation of open space throughout the community, particularly near tributaries and waterways. Open space sponges up pollutants.
- Encourage development of protective ordinances for water quality in your area.
Many of these ideas were modified from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay as posted on EPA's web site.
information and ideas, check out the Partners
for Clean Water web site.
Runoff Controls for Pollution Prevention
and landowners can help by controlling runoff, constructing buffer areas
near return ditches and streams, building sediment ponds, and changing
irrigation and plowing practices. See Nonpoint Source Resources under Related Links for more information.
Developers and Builders:
Address Stormwater During and After Construction
a new subdivision? It's a great opportunity to provide new or improved
stormwater control--and many jurisdictions require it. A number of new,
low-impact stormwater runoff technologies are available beyond traditional
systems. Idaho DEQ has an overview of stormwater issues and opportunities, as well as a catalogue of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs). The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) provides local stormwater information and resources.
Idaho DEQ construction
assistance page has information about how to maintain water quality
during projects, and the permits required.
Check out the Compliance Corner on the Partners for Clean Water web page for permitting and erosion control information.
Teach Kids About Water Quality
of Boise, along with other Partners
for Clean Water, make it easy for teachers to incorporate lessons
about water quality. Here are some resources:
- Visit the Boise WaterShed, and learn about year-round educational opportunities and hands-on activities.
for Clean Water Kid's
Page: Color Eddy Trout, or get involved with marking storm drains.
City offers free lessons through the Environmental Resource Center for various age groups, on water quality-related topics
from groundwater to stormwater to hazardous waste.
- The Foothills Learning Center offers year-round educational opportunities.
- Get involved in World Water Monitoring Day, and let your students see how our watershed is part of the big picture.
Geological Survey (USGS) offers free, downloadable
posters and activity guides for elementary and junior-high aged students.
The nine posters include such themes as water quality, watershed function,
wastewater treatment, and water use.