Did you know that the first significant rainfall of the year is called a “first flush”?

During this first rainfall, water washes significant levels of pollution off of street surfaces, driveways and curbs straight into storm drains that empty into local rivers, creeks, and streams. For more than 15 years, Coastal Watershed Council partnered with local municipalities to study the urban pollutants that are washed into storm drains and local waters during this critical event.

First Flush monitoring results illustrate the impact of non-point source pollution generated through our daily interactions in the environment – high metal concentrations can be attributed to car brake linings, high nutrient concentrations can be linked to fertilizers, and high bacteria concentrations are generated by failing sewer and septic lines, wildlife and pet waste.

Residents and business owners can take action before the first flush and other rain events to reduce the amount of pollution being carried downstream. Here is how:

  1. Remove dead leaves, debris and trash from your gutter, your driveway, your yard, or the street and dispose of them properly.Water-Quality
  2. Get your sewer lateral inspected: Ensure that there are no major cracks that allow for sewage to seep out and into the groundwater. An inspection can also ensure that rainwater seeping into the ground cannot infiltrate your pipe and back it up.
  3. Pick up pet waste in your yard: Rainwater acts as a conduit for bacteria to move to nearby creeks and streams or seep into the groundwater.
  4. Do not apply fertilizers before a rain event.
  5. Properly store or dispose of fertilizers, paints or chemicals. Do not dump chemicals down gutter. Storm drains are for rain water only.
  6. Move downspouts so they flow rain water onto grassy or planted areas rather than hard surfaces.