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Impacts

Urbanization increases the variety and amount of pollutants carried into our nation’s waters. In urban and suburban areas, much of the land surface is covered by buildings, pavement and compacted landscapes with impaired drainage. These surfaces do not allow rain and snow melt to soak into the ground which greatly increases the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff. In addition to these habitat-destroying impacts, pollutants from urban runoff include:

  • Sediment
  • Oil, grease and toxic chemicals from motor vehicles
  • Pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens
  • Viruses, bacteria and nutrients from pet waste and failing septic systems
  • Road salts
  • Heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles and other sources
  • Thermal pollution from dark impervious surfaces such as streets and rooftops

These pollutants can harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, foul drinking water, and make recreational areas unsafe and unpleasant.

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Water quality best management practices for homeowners

Rethink lawn care – Mow masterfully: Keep the lawn about 3” high. Longer grass is stronger grass. Fertilize fairly: Soil test, don’t guess. Mulch your clippings and return them to the lawn as natural fertilizer. Maintain a buffer of no fertilizer application 10 feet from water surfaces, and watch watering – light, frequent mid-day watering is most beneficial.

Capture and re-use stormwater – Capture and use rainwater for garden and landscape irrigation by installing a rain barrel. You can also keep rainwater on your property by diverting it into a rain garden. Preventing rainwater from running off your property and into storm drains helps to keep pollution out of Lake Macatawa.

Landscape for water quality – Plant buffer strips of grasses, wildflowers or shrubs adjacent to water, plant native vegetation with deep root systems to encourage infiltration, use integrated pest management to minimize pesticide application, and Plant trees to shade driveways and buildings to reduce thermal pollution.

Clean and maintain impervious surfaces – Sweep grass clippings off hard surfaces and into lawns, keep a spill kit handy to clean up any gasoline, oil or other spills that may occur in the driveway or garage, wash cars in the grass or at a commercial car wash facility, when powerwashing, direct runoff into the grass and away from storm drains, and use salt sparingly and store snow in a grassy area where snow melt can infiltrate into the ground.

Properly dispose of all household wastes – NEVER DUMP ANYTHING DOWN STORM DRAINS. They lead directly to a drain or stream that eventually empties into Lake Macatawa. Drop off household hazardous wastes at recycling facilities. Never flush unwanted or unused medication down the drain or toilet. These materials are not removed in the waste water treatment process and become a source of water pollution. Dispose of them properly at collection facilities. Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste.

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