Water management information

Water Management Information
Storm Drains Aren’t Garbage Cans: It ALL Drains to the River
Most of us don't think much about the storm drains at the end of our driveways or on our streets. Likewise, there probably isn't much thought given to roadside ditches. They're just there. But, storm drains and roadside ditches play a key role in the quality of our region's lakes and rivers.

How? Anything that gets in a storm drain or a roadside ditch goes directly to rivers and lakes without being treated. If anything other than rain ? excess fertilizer, pet waste, yard waste, motor oil, deicing salt, or other chemicals, for example ? gets in drains or ditches, our rivers and lakes will become polluted. A build-up of any of these pollutants in lakes and rivers can be the cause of beach closings and can impact our ability to enjoy time on the water. As a result, the overall quality of life in Southeast Michigan is negatively impacted.

  • Sweep it.  Do you have extra fertilizer, grass clippings, leaves, deicing salt, or dirt on your driveway?  Sweep it back onto your lawn.
  • Keep it clean.  Whether in the street or in your yard, remember to keep leaves, grass        clippings, trash, fertilizers, and deicing salts away from storm drains. 
  • Only rain in the drain.  Never dump motor oil, chemicals, pet waste, dirty soapy water or anything else down the storm drain.  Once down the storm drain, all of these materials pollute our lakes and streams.
  • Label it.  Volunteer to label storm drains in your neighborhood to inform your neighbors that they flow directly to our lakes and streams.  Encourage friends and family members to contact their local community for more information on storm drain stenciling programs.  
For additional information, contact: Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) at: (313) 961-4266 or visit their website at www.semcog.org.
 
 
Managing Nonpoint Source Pollution from Households

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is the leading source for water quality degradation in the United States. Nonpoint source pollution is runoff from urban residences, agricultural fields, impervious surfaces, construction activity, and any other over land flow that enters our waterways while accumulating pollutants. Detrimental outcomes such as eutrophication, sedimentation, and contamination can severely affect aquatic and terrestrial habitat in addition to impact drinking water supplies. 

There are several proactive measures a home owner can take to help reduce the amount of NPS pollutants entering local lakes, streams, and rivers. These preventive measures include:

•Keeping litter, pet waste, and lawn waste out of storm drains.
•Control soil erosion on your property by planting vegetation 
•Immediately clean up any oil and grease spills when maintaining your vehicle.
•Apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly. Alternatives for chemicals and fertilizers include low phosphorous brands.
•Properly dispose of household chemicals, cleaners, paints, and other hazardous chemicals. Do not dump these harmful chemicals down your drain or any storm sewer.

For more information on nonpoint source pollution, please visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website at www.epa.gov or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) website at www.noaa.gov.
 
Help Keep Our Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Clean

The chemicals in herbicides and pesticides pollute our waterways if washed from lawns and gardens into storm drains and roadside ditches.
How can you maintain your garden and trees while protecting our waterways?

Go native 
Select plants native to Michigan. Native plants are better able to tolerate Michigan’s climate, require less fertilizer and water, and are more disease resistant.

Plant a rain garden 
oUse native plants in low areas where rainwater collects in your yard to trap, absorb, and filter storm water.

Diversify your plantings 
Use a wide variety of plants to help control pests and minimize the need for pesticides.

Place a thick layer of mulch (four inches) around trees and plants  
This helps retain water, reduce weeds, and minimizes the need for pesticides.

Plant a tree 
Trees can provide many benefits, such as soaking up water; that improves the environment and quality of life in your community. A typical, medium-sized tree can capture 2,380 gallons of rainwater per year.

Use pesticides and herbicides sparingly 
oLimit application of these chemicals to problem areas only.

For more information on ways to protect our watershed, visit www.semcog.org.
 
Preventing Sewer Backups

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) in sanitary sewer pipes create pollution problems in many communities. FOG enters sewer pipes through restaurant, residential, and commercial sink drains. Once in the sewer, FOG sticks to the pipe and thickens. FOG can build up and eventually block the pipe.  Blockages in sewer pipes can send sewage backward - out of manholes into streets, rivers, or up floor drains in homes. 

Fat, oil, and grease are by-products of cooking found in: food scraps, meat fats, lard, cooking oil, butter, margarine, or shortening.  Follow these tips to protect our environment and keep drains clear of FOG:
•Pour or scrape greasy or oily food waste into a container or jar;
•Allow grease to cool or freeze in the container before throwing it in the trash;
•Do not use hot water to rinse grease off cookware, utensils, or dishes. Wipe it off with a paper towel or dish rag instead;
•Keep drains clean by pouring ½ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse with hot water.