Only Rain Down the Drain

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Ever wonder why you might see a beach closure sign after it rains?  That’s because of stormwater pollution is caused by urban runoff.  When it comes to preventing stormwater pollution, the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability promotes, “only rain down the drain.”

Unlike the waste water from our kitchens, tubs and sinks, which travels through miles of piping infrastructure to Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, where it gets treated before it’s released back into the ocean. When it rains, stormwater picks up debris, bacteria, and toxins from streets, driveways, parking lots, yards and gardens and travels, untreated, directly into our waterways and oceans.

“The ‘only rain down the drain’ slogan is easy for people to remember and helps to get rid of any misconceptions that what goes into the storm drain  is being treated,” said City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Courtney Lindberg. “Being cognizant of how the storm drain system works, and making small behavior changes , we can each do our part in preventing stormwater pollution.”

So, even though you personally may have never “physically” put anything in the storm drain system, it’s important to remember, that even if you wash your car on the driveway, use pesticides in your lawn and garden and/or sweep debris from your driveway into the street, when it rains, these items along with other debris, dog waste, car oils, and small items like cigarette butts and plastic wrappers, all collect and travel by rain water into the untreated storm drain system.

Here are some great tips to get you started on being proactive with fighting stormwater pollution:

-When taking care of your lawn and garden, remove all small items and trash, leaves and clippings and throw them away either in the trash or compost pile.

-Use lawn care chemicals, pesticides and herbicides sparingly. Follow the directions to prevent an overflow into the storm drain system when it rains or when a yard is watered (careful not to overwater). A slow-release fertilizer is best. If you have to use fertilizers and pesticides, it’s best to use natural brands — bone meal, blood meal, compost or organic blends.  Try and hand pick weeds and use spot treatments vs. treating the entire yard.  Excess nutrients from fertilizers that get into our waterways can cause massive algae blooms, which can harm marine life.  If you employ Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens CPR (Conservation, Permeability and Retention).  you may not even need fertilizer because your lawn and garden will have a healthy insect population that will naturally control your outside environment.

-Your grass will be healthier if you don’t cut it short.  A longer lawn also uses less fertilizer and less water, which will help you save on your maintenance and water bills.

-To control weeds, reduce water evaporation and keep soil moist, place mulch around shrubs and under trees.  Mulch can be purchased at a local nursery.  The Cornucopia Community Garden at Bobolink Lane in Ventura offers residents free mulch. Also watch for the City of Ventura’s FREE Compost Workshops.   Sign up for our newsletter at SustainableVentura.TV to learn about upcoming events.

-Consider adopting native plants into your garden that thrive in the natural habitat.  Using native plants will translate into less maintenance, little or no irrigation and fertilizer and will provide a habitat for native wildlife species.  Visit: Surfrider.org’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program and Ventura.WaterSavingPlants.com

-Sweep your driveway and around your home with a broom and pan vs. hosing down those hard surface areas. Lawn chemicals and yard debris will get mixed in with the hose runoff and travel directly into the untreated stormdrain system.

-The city recommends taking your car to a professional car wash services that have certified water treatment capabilities. However, if you do wash your car at home, wash it on a permeable surface with non-toxic chemicals so that runoff will be absorbed in the ground.

-Check for water leaks around your lawn and garden.  Always adjust sprinklers so that they don’t run on paved surfaces and cause runoff into the street and gutters.  It’s also a great idea to install a climate control irrigation timer to make sure you are maximizing water efficiency.

-If you have any questions, and even if you don’t, it’s always best to consult with a lawn and landscape professional.  A professional can test your soil and give you an accurate reading on what type of irrigation and plants will work best for your landscape. They’re a great resource trained to help you make the most of your landscape.

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RESOURCES:

Stormwater Tips: Visit: SustainableVentura.TV and SEARCH “Stormwater Tips”

Ocean Friendly Garden programs: http://www.surfrider.org/programs/entry/ocean-friendly-gardens

Native plants: Ventura.WaterSavingPlants.com

For car oil recycling locations: TEXT OIL to 39798.  Text and data rates may apply, CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

FREE Oil change kits:  The city provides FREE oil change kits for use at home.  Call 805-652-4525 to schedule a time to pick up a kit.

Disposing of Hazardous Waste:  Household Hazardous Waste events are held every third Saturday of the month (excluding December).  The events are free and an appointment is required.  Visit:  CityofVentura.net/HHW and/or call 805-652-4525.

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-Maryann Ridini Spencer

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