Everyone can play a key role in keeping our waterways clean and free of pollution through changes in behavior. Much of the pollution in our urban waterways can be linked to common lawn care practices such as applying too much fertilizer and pesticide, or not properly disposing of pet waste.

Before learning how you can make a difference, here are some key definitions regarding water pollution:

  • Runoff – Runoff is stormwater that flows over impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, streets and to some extent over residential lawns. As it flows, it picks up oils, lawn chemicals, pet waste and other pollutants along the way.
  • Storm Sewers – Unlike the sewers connected to your home’s plumbing, storm sewers take stormwater runoff directly to nearby lakes and streams, without any treatment to remove pollutants.
  • Watersheds – Everyone lives in a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water, such as a nearby creek, stream, river or lake. Find your watershed here.

Stormwater runoff is the biggest problem facing our streams, creeks and rivers today; fortunately, there are many things YOU can do to improve water quality AND save money.

Tips for Improving Water Quality

  • Landscape with native plants to increase water infiltration and decrease lawn maintenance.
  • Never discard trash or yard waste down storm drains or in the street.
  • Dispose of pet waste properly.
  • Use lawn chemicals safely. Always follow label instructions and never apply before rain or watering the lawn, unless directed.
  • Redirect downspouts to drain rain water onto lawns and gardens.
  • Wash your car at a professional car wash that filters the wastewater or wash your car in a grassy area. Do not wash cars on driveways or in the street.
  • Use rain barrels or rain gardens to conserve rain water on your property.

Learn more in KC Water Services’ “A Resident’s Reference Guide to Stormwater Management.”