Coastal Rivers celebrates National Water Quality Month!
National Water Quality Month is dedicated to making the most of our water resources, because having clean water is vital to our individual and community health and the needs of our environment.
What is the Purpose of National Water Quality Month?
National Water quality month reminds us to take a moment to consider how important water sources are not just to humans, but also to the other inhabitants of these ecosystems – whether it be the fish that live in the waters or the plants and animals that rely on lakes and rivers for water just like we do. By thinking about the little things that we do on a daily basis that could have a negative effect on water quality, we’ll be one step closer to making a difference.
There are easily thousands of factors that can have a negative impact on the quality of our local water sources ranging from industrial pollutants like metal particulate, oils, and other chemicals to the pesticides we use in our own backyards.
Nine things you can do at home to protect your water
Wash your car at a car wash: Even though it might cost more than washing your car at home, taking your car to a car wash saves water and prevents toxic chemicals from washing into your yard or being flushed down storm drains that eventually empty into our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans. Professional car washes are legally required to drain into sewer systems so that the water can be filtered.
Pick up after your pet: Animal waste is full of bacteria as well as nitrogen. Nitrogen can cause oxygen depletion in water, making it inhospitable to many animals.
If your driveway is paved, sweep it rather than hosing it down to save water and reduce run-off.
Don’t use chemical fertilizer: Heavy rainfall or watering can cause chemicals from fertilizer to leak into nearby water bodies and groundwater sources. Well-screened compost is a more environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical fertilizer, and it’s great for your lawn. That being said, reducing your lawn area is an even stronger play! Consider replacing some of your lawn with native plants that require less watering, and keep your lawn grass long enough that the roots find sufficient water. Mowing too frequently and too short can prevent the roots from growing deeply, so they are hotter and allow soil moisture to evaporate.
Instead of flushing expired or unwanted medication down the toilet, wait for a community “drop take back” collection day. Many medications have toxic chemicals that should not be flushed down the drain.
Take used oil or antifreeze to a service station or recycling center.
Avoid using antibacterial soaps or cleaning products in your drain as they are also toxic to marine life.
Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater: Installing a rain barrel will not only save you money, but can also be used for watering your lawn or garden. Of course if you live in Maine, you will want to cover any openings with a screen to avoid creating a spa for mosquitos.
If you are not one already, become a Coastal Rivers member! Our members support water quality in our estuaries and in our fresh water lakes and ponds in many forms, including:
- Strategic land conservation
- Swim beach monitoring at three favorite local swim spots
- Estuary water quality monitoring
- Participating in MCOA, a regional water quality monitoring initiative
- Testing for cyanobacteria in lakes and ponds
- Taking part in the statewide Phytoplankton Monitoring Program
- Monitoring for invasive aquatic plants
- Coordinating Courtesy Boat Inspections in the Pemaquid River watershed
Adapted from nationalwaterqualitymonth.org.
Photo: Pemaquid Pond