Stormwater And Non-Point Source Pollution

Stormwater is the runoff that occurs during rainstorms.

In natural systems, rainwater is absorbed by the soil or plants on the ground. Impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, driveways, streets and parking lots, divert the rainwater down the slope or gradient. Most neighborhoods have storm sewer systems that take this accumulated stormwater away, usually to a retention pond, lake or stream.

Stormwater can cause problems because it picks up pollutants on the ground and carries them to the nearest water body. Stormwater is not like waste water, which is treated before being released. Stormwater is unfiltered and untreated and transported directly to your local stream lake or river.

Excessive nutrient loads in rivers, lakes and streams can promote unsightly and harmful algae growth. Excessive sediment and garbage can ruin the aesthetic and recreational value of our waterways. Communities, using rivers and reservoirs for drinking water sources, must filter these contaminants at great public expense. Pollutants can leak into ground water, another important drinking water source.

Non-point source pollution, pollution storm water carries, is caused by all of us. The actions we take (or don't take) during the day contribute to this harmful contamination and degradation of our waterways. There are many small steps that everyone can take that will contribute to a better environment.

Simple things you can do to reduce polluted runoff:

Conserve Water

When watering your lawn use just enough. Don't have the water flowing down the street. Don't hose down sidewalks or driveways, just sweep them.

Limit Use Of Pesticides And Lawn Fertilizers

Follow the manufacturerís directions when applying chemicals, use only the amount needed. Don't apply chemicals before a large storm event. If there isn't enough time for absorption, rain will wash it away, polluting the water and wasting your money.

Take your car to a car wash

The soaps and wax you use will be washed down the storm drain and into a river, lake or stream.

Dispose of household hazardous waste properly - Paint, car fluids, solvents, and batteries should never be poured down the drain.

Don't Litter!

Don't dump paper, wrappers, cigarette butts, or other small items on the ground. They can be carried by stormwater into rivers and lakes.

Dispose Of Pet Waste

Pet waste is a major contributor of dangerous bacteria as well as nutrients that can lead to harmful algae and plant growth in streams and rivers. By cleaning up pet waste, even in your own backyard, you can remove this harmful non-point source pollutant. The best way to dispose of pet waste is to flush it, which insures it will be properly treated by your local treatment center.

Many of us already do some of these on a regular basis. These are a good start for the average homeowner. They are not necessarily expensive, difficult or time consuming.

The Ultimate Manure Management Day

Mark your calendars now to attend a Manure Management Field Day July 29 hosted by Whiteshire Hamroc Farm in Noble County.

The field day will begin at 10 a.m. with an overview/presentation of the Whiteshire Hamroc operation with emphasis on the economics of manure, historical manure application compared to current application methods, and fertility management.

Tim Harrigan, a biosystems and agricultural engineering professor at Michigan State University will discuss a manure slurry seeding process in relation to cover cropping. And NRCS District conservationist Russell Baker will highlight the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in regard to manure management and cover cropping opportunities.

A free lunch will be provided to the first 100 participants that RSVP. The Noble County Pork Producers will grill their famous pork burger sandwiches.

After lunch, we will proceed to a neighboring field (walking distance) owned and operated by Dudley Parker. At this site, you will view the manure slurry seeding equipment. And you will see a demonstration/side-by-side comparison of various equipment tools (Salford, Phoenix etc.). Barry Fisher, NRCS state agronomist will be on hand to discuss the tools, offer his insight, and answer questions. The field day should conclude around 2:00pm.

This field day is being co-sponsored by the Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Elkhart, Steuben, St. Joseph, and Whitley County SWCDs in conjunction with NRCS and the Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D. Watch for future information on location details and registration opportunities. For additional information, contact the Kosciusko County SWCD at 574-267-7445, ext. 3.