What You Can Do for a Cleaner River
A bit of pollution from your backyard, from your neighbor two doors down, your place of work or your favorite store. All throughout the watershed, small amounts of pollution accumulate to have a detrimental impact on local waterways. Just as each of us can negatively affect water quality, each one of us can be part of positive solutions, resulting in a cleaner, healthier San Lorenzo River, for everyone.
That’s why the Coastal Watershed Council, in partnership with the City of Santa Cruz, has launched a public information campaign to engage Santa Cruz residents and business owners in reducing common bacterial pollutants entering the San Lorenzo River. Three common sources of human and human-caused bacteria that are affecting your waterways include:
- Leaking sewer laterals that connect your home to the sewer main
- Dry season, human caused flows into storm drains
- Pet waste left out in yards and open spaces
Eliminating human and human-caused bacteria in your own environment is a critical step towards a swimmable, fishable river for your community and your kids to enjoy. Read on to learn how you can help.
Water can enter the storm drain system during dry weather months because of human activity. By cleaning off the grill in your driveway, washing the dog, or overwatering a garden, water can run off of your property, into the street and down the storm drain.
When water enters the storm drain system during dry weather months, there’s not enough flow to flush it through the system, so it stagnates, and bacteria known as biofilm can grow. Then, when the next storms arrive and stormwater flushes the system, this bacteria washes into the river.
You can do your part to ensure only clean stormwater reaches your street gutters. Pick up trash, dispose of household chemicals properly and stop water from going down the storm drain by washing your car at a car wash or tending to a leaky sprinkler. When there is no rain, gutters should be dry.
Over time sewer laterals may crack and can even collapse, leaking sewage into your yard, into the groundwater or storm drains, eventually entering the river or ocean. While major failures are often detected simply by the smell in the air, minor failures could be happening right now, without you being aware. The best way to keep any human bacteria from entering the river is to have your sewer lateral inspected by a plumber.