On-Lot Pollution Solutions
When we think about water pollution, we may instantly picture a big factory with smoke pipes, an oil spill, or a toxic leak from an industrial facility. But across the country, "non-point source pollution," or pollution that comes from small sources like our homes, yards, roads, and cars is the number one cause of water pollution. When it rains, water that doesn't soak into the ground, called stormwater or stormwater runoff, goes down storm drains along streets. These empty into neighborhood streams that flow to the Patuxent River, eventually entering the Chesapeake Bay.
As stormwater flows down driveways and roads, it picks up trash, dirt, oil, pet waste, pesticides and really anything in its path. For example, washing a car on a paved driveway can cause auto fluids (oil, gas, anti-freeze), dirt, and heavy metals from wearing brakes or tires to flow from the driveway into the road, then down the storm drain and into a local stream.
Fortunately, there are many ways that each of us can minimize our contribution to polluted runoff. Look through the list below and choose at least one to try!
Rain barrels are a great source of free water for use in your yard. A rain barrel is installed at the end of your gutter and downspout and collects rainwater that can be fed through a hose to your plant beds. Consider completing this registration form to let us know you have a rain barrel.
o There are many plants, grasses and flowers that are native to our area and are used to our local climate, soil, and precipitation. Once established, they need little to no care, which reduces the need for costly and potentially harmful pesticides, fertilizers and supplemental watering. Consider bayscaping!
o For those areas where you have turf grass, mulching mowers provide a natural fertilizer for your lawn by grinding up leaves and grass and leaving them in place. This will also protect your grass from the hot summer sun and saves you from having to bag leaves in the fall. Don't forget to see if you qualify for a rebate for your mulching gas mower or for various electric lawn equipment.
City code does not mandate turf grass. All sorts of alternatives to traditional turf lawns are available, including clover, sedum, and native grasses. The Maryland Extension Service has more information on native groundcovers. The Prince George's County Audubon Society has Habitat Advisors that can come to your house and provide suggestions.
Federal laws require that these facilities send their dirty wash water to the local wastewater treatment plant...and many will collect, clean and reuse the water on-site. Washing a car at home leads to polluted stormwater.
If you need to wash your car or perform maintenance at home, please do so on the grass. It's important to note that City code requires all four vehicle tires be on a paved surface so this move is only temporary while working on your car. Be sure to take used oil and anti-freeze to the City's oil recycling facility at Public Works (16500 Annapolis Road).
Report water pollution or other problems with a local stream, pond, or storm drain by clicking on the image above or contacting:
Public Works Department
For more information about protecting our water, please contact:
Tiffany Wright, Watershed Manager