Clean water checklist

Help protect water resources by adopting one or more of the actions on this checklist.

Water is important in Michigan but never more than during the summer. Swimming, boating, fishing or just enjoying the view of the water are regular activities during the summer months. These activities wouldn’t be possible if the water is polluted or just doesn’t look very clean. However, we can all do our part to reduce pollution in our waterways.

The following checklist provides some actions you can adopt to help to improve your local water resources whether it’s a lake, river, stream or drainage ditch. If each of us adopts one or more of these as regular habits, we can make a huge impact on our local water resources.

Disconnecting and/or redirecting downspouts:

If your downspouts are still connected directly to the sewer, disconnect them and redirect them onto vegetated (grass or shrubs) areas away from building foundations. This allows stormwater to be absorbed into the ground and filtered before reaching groundwater and eventually surface water.

Cleaning up spills, leaks and debris:

Don’t use your hose to wash away spills, leaks or trash outside. For spills and leaks, use an absorbent materials (clay or kitty litter) to absorb the liquid, then sweep it up. For dirt and debris in your garage or on your driveway, blow or seep it into a pile then sweep it up. By hosing or blowing it into the street, it gets washed directly into storm drains and into local streams or rivers.

Washing/Repairing Automobiles:

The best option for washing your car is at a car wash. If you don’t use a car wash, then wash your vehicle on the grass. The soap will not hurt the grass and it’ll be absorbed and cleaned by the soil before reaching groundwater. Washing your car on the driveway or in the street allows the soap and dirt to flow directly into storm drains and local waterways.

When doing car repairs, make sure you are in an area where any spills or leaks won’t flow toward the street and storm drains or ditches.

Cleaning up after pets:

When walking your dog, take a plastic bag to collect his/her pet waste to prevent it from washing into local water bodies during the next rain storm. At home, have a designated area for your pet to “do their business” so you can easily pick it up and dispose of it properly by putting it in the trash.

Maintaining Lawns and Gardens:

Use any chemical sparingly. When you do apply fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, direct these chemicals to the area intended. Immediately sweep or blow any that lands on paved surfaces back onto the grass or garden. This will prevent these chemicals from combining with water and getting to our waterways.

Installing New Pavement:

If installing new patios, driveway or walkways, consider porous pavement or pavers which allows the water to soak into the ground rather than running off. If a non-porous surface is chosen, slope these surfaces toward a grassy or vegetated areas to reduce runoff.

Maintaining Household Plumbing:

Make sure plumbing leaks are corrected as soon as possible. Make sure all plumbing is connected to the sanitary sewer or septic system not to storm drains. Maintain your septic system by conserving water, pumping regularly and checking for signs of trouble.

For more information, visit the Michigan State University Extension Natural Resources page.

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