Protecting our water at a neighborhood level
With summer approaching, the outdoors starts to look like the most likely place to spend our weekends and evenings: working in the yard, getting the pool ready, painting the house or fence, or even tuning up a vehicle. With all this outdoor maintenance activity, it’s important to remember to protect our streams and rivers from runoff of chemicals, oils, paints, yard waste, etc..
The city’s Storm Water Quality Management team calls this runoff Non-Point Source Pollution. This means that we don’t always know the source but we definitely feel the effects. Some examples of NPS Pollution are:
Sediment (soil erosion)
Yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc.)
Fertilizer and pesticides
Animal waste (bacteria)
Residues from chemical spills/container overflows
Vehicle drips and leaks
Vehicle wash residue and detergents
Chlorinated swimming pool water
Washing machine discharges
And many other contaminants…
These pollutants can flow into our creeks, streams, river and lakes through storm drains in our neighborhoods. While there are many pollutants and bad practices that we can be on the lookout for, the following two are frequent occurrences in neighborhoods.
1.) It is illegal to drain a swimming pool into the street and/or the storm water disposal drain on your street. If you see anyone practicing illegal draining of this sort immediately contact the City of OKC’s Action Center at 297-2535 and report the address. The chlorine and chemicals dumped by pools can kill thousands of fish, frogs and other Oklahoma wildlife.
2.) It is also illegal to physically sweep or blow yard clippings into the street, because they too end up in the storm water disposal system creating a hazard to fish and wildlife and causing blockages. Neighborhoods that contract with lawn mowing professionals should put it in their contract that they do not allow their vendor to blow refuse into the street. Again, if you witness this illegal practice report it to the Action Center at 297-2535.
Remember, the rules are there to protect us all and we all have a responsibility to adhere to the rules and report violators! Help keep your neighborhood, our city and our state a beautiful, ecologically vibrant place!