Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Help Get the Chesapeake Bay Off Her Diet

In case you haven't heard, the Chesapeake Bay, whose watershed includes six states and covers 65,000 square miles, is failing to meet federal water quality standards and is being put on what essentially amounts to a “pollution diet” by the EPA.

Both the cause and the effect of the Bay's pollution problem impact every resident of the area.

The effect of the problem is that millions of dollars are being spent to clean up these waterways. Local officials are expressing concerns about the astronomical costs for the stormwater portion of the pollution diet. For example, initial cost estimates for stormwater range from $850 million for Fairfax County to more than $1 billion each for Montgomery and Frederick counties. Stormwater management is a key element in the success of the pollution diet – stormwater accounts for 16% of Nitrogen, 32% Phosphorus, and 24% of sediment load to the Bay.

The cause of the problem, in part, is what you do around your home and property that contributes to stormwater pollution.

We've talked about stormwater many times on this blog. Stormwater is caused when rain and other water washes substances off of properties, streets, and hard surfaces, carrying pollution with it. Stormwater flows into storm drains, which feed directly into local streams and ultimately, the Bay.

There are many things that you can do to help with the Bay’s pollution diet. Here are just a few:

1)    Eliminate chemicals in your landscape – fertilizers and pesticides are prime sources of water pollution
2)    Install rain barrels – rain barrels capture water and let you redirect stormwater
3)    Create a rain garden – same as above. Rain gardens provide a place for stormwater runoff to go
4)    Install pervious surfaces to keep stormwater on your property
5)    Pick up after your dog – dog waste is another source of pollution

Here are some other posts about stormwater:

·         Shoulding All Over the Place
·         Protect the Groundwater

And be sure and subscribe to the Metro DC Lawn and Garden blog as we continue to share ideas for how we can all learn to help protect the local environment from our own homes and yards.

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