Be River Smart – Help reduce stormwater pollution from entering the Farmington River

We’d like to share some actions that help reduce pollution in our streams and rivers. Stormwater washes pollutants from the land (think parking lots, roadways, and fertilized lawns) into our waterways. In fact, stormwater pollution is the #1 water quality problem of the Farmington River Watershed. Read on for tips to help mitigate pollution in the Farmington River.

Stormwater pollution is the #1 water quality problem of the Farmington River watershed. Sign the River Smart pledge and take your part in reducing polluted runoff!

The main objective of River Smart is to increase awareness and effect behavior change that can positively reduce the levels of polluted runoff into our streams, rivers, and ultimately Long Island Sound.

Take the River Smart Pledge to help with this initiative by learning what you can do to positively affect the health of the watershed by reducing polluted runoff. For example, plant native plants, use fewer chemicals on lawns, compost and recycle, install rain barrels, and conserve water whenever possible. Below are some River Smart actions:

WASHING YOUR CAR When you wash your car on a paved surface, the water can carry oil, grease, and soap towards storm drains, which flow directly into our streams and rivers.

What can you do to stop this?
Wash your car on the lawn, and use biodegradable soap. The ground helps naturally filter out pollutants. Alternatively, use a car wash where the water is recycled and treated.

PET WASTE and SEPTIC SYSTEMS
Pet waste is a source of bacteria, and if left out it can be carried by stormwater into the water we fish in, swim in, and drink from. It is also critical to the health of our streams and rivers that septic systems are property maintained – malfunctioning systems can release harmful bacteria, viruses, and chemicals to our local waterways.
 
What can you do?               
Flush pet waste (where it will be treated in a sewage treatment plant or septic system) or throw it in the garbage. And don’t forget about your septic! Have it cleaned out regularly to help prevent seepage that could end up in waterways.

CANADA GEESE
Seeing lots of Canada Geese and what they leave behind on your lawn? They contribute to e.coli levels in our waterways, and they love large, short cut lawns. Avoid the problem of geese by reducing your lawn area by planting rain gardens. If you live next to water, plant native plants along the banks, creating a natural buffer – their ideal habitat is short lawns leading directly to the edge of ponds and rivers.

FERTILIZING YOUR LAWN
Fertilizers are easily transported from lawn to storm drain, and once in the water cause algae blooms, which take up the oxygen needed for aquatic life.

What can you do?
Use fertilizers sparingly or not at all, and stick to organic, slow release fertilizers. When mowing the lawn, mow high and leave clippings. They will naturally fertilize your lawn, leading to better results for your home and the watershed. Our organic lawn care and river-friendly landscaping section has detailed information on this – learn more here.

HAZARDOUS and MEDICAL WASTE
What can you do to prevent hazardous waste from entering our streams, rivers, and Long Island Sound?
 
Check and fix any oil leaks from your car, lawn mowers, and other equipment. Clean up spills immediately – collect in plastic jugs and use kitty litter to soak up any residue. Properly dispose of unused medications – take them to the police department’s drug drop box, town collection events for hazardous waste, or check with your local pharmacy. Bring household paints and chemicals to town collection events (visit your town’s website to see when hazardous waste collection days are).

TRASH
I’m sure many of you have seen trash along the river and in our local parks and open spaces. Please remember to carry in what you carry out and join us in cleaning up the river. Remember to wear gloves, wash hands afterwards, and stay safe when cleaning up trash. The river will thank you!

Share this information with your friends and family! Each action may seem small, but collectively YOU can be a big part of cleaning up the Farmington River Watershed.


This project made possible by a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund

River Smart is led cooperatively by Housatonic Valley Association, Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, Kent Land Trust, Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, and the Farmington River Watershed Association.