What YOU can do to protect your streams:
People must be the creek’s best friend. By understanding ways we can make a difference, even a small change in behavior can have a great positive impact. With around 500,000 people living in the watershed, if only 1% of those people reduced their use of lawn pesticides and fertilizers, that’s 5,000 people contributing to a healthier creek. That’s a huge impact!
Here are some of the many ways you can help make a difference. Start by doing easier things and then move up to more difficult changes. Remember, every little bit helps.
- Keep rainwater on your land. Direct water from downspouts and sump pumps to a garden bed or the lawn. Redoing a driveway? Consider using alternatives to asphalt and concrete, such as porous concrete or tile-like paving blocks. Check out this sustainable landscape website.
- Plant a rain garden. It keeps water on your land by using excess water that would normally run into a storm drain or sewer increasing flooding and adding non point source pollutants to the water. For tips and instructions on planting a rain garden, download any or all of these PDF brochures:
- Attend creek clean-ups in your community. Get out and help clean up the creek and meet some neighbors. If you can’t find a clean up in your area, contact SCWN for more information.
- If you live next to the creek there are ways to use vegetation and other natural methods to protect the water from pollution and save your land from eroding.
- Throw litter in its proper place, not in the stream or on the street.
- Don't flush old medicine (prescription or over the counter) down the drain. Treatment plants can't remove most medicines from the waste stream. Instead, put the meds in a leak proof bag, add water to solid meds to dissolve them. Then add cat litter or saw dust to absorb the liquid - any absorbent material that will make the meds unpalatable. Then enclose it all in a second leak proof bag before disposing with the garbage.
- Recycle used oil and antifreeze by taking them to service stations and other recycling centers. (One quart of oil can contaminate up to two million gallons of drinking water!)
- Don’t pour ANYTHING into a storm drain or sewers - especially things like motor oil, anti-freeze, and old paint.
- Support organizations that work on behalf of the creek, like Salt Creek Watershed Network.
- Support efforts to create bike and waterway trails along Salt Creek.
- Reduce or better yet eliminate your use of chemicals. Did you know by leaving your grass longer that it fights weeds better naturally?
- When landscaping your yard, select native plants that have low requirements for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
- Leave lawn clippings on your lawn so that nutrients in the clippings are recycled and less yard waste goes to landfills.
- Compost your yard trimmings. Compost is a valuable soil conditioner which gradually releases nutrients to your lawn and garden. (Using compost will also decrease the amount of fertilizer you need to apply.) In addition, compost retains moisture in the soil and thus helps you conserve water.
- Test your soil before applying fertilizers. Over-fertilization is a common problem, and the excess can leach into ground water or contaminate rivers or lakes.
- Inspect your septic system annually. Pump out your septic system regularly. (Pumping out every three to five years is recommended for a three-bedroom house with a 1,000-gallon tank; smaller tanks should be pumped more often.)
- Do not use septic system additives. There is no scientific evidence that biological and chemical additives aid or accelerate decomposition in septic tanks; some additives may in fact be detrimental to the septic system or contaminate ground water.
- Write or call your elected representatives to inform them about your concerns and encourage legislation to protect water resources.
- Spend time along the creek. Watch the seasons change. Enjoy watching birds and other animals.
- Plant native plants- they tolerate drought, don’t need fertilizer or pesticide, don’t need to be mowed, hold soil in place, and have attractive flowers.
- Pick up pet waste, it can contain bacteria and viruses that wash into the water.