Managing Residential Water Pollution

If it falls on the ground, it can end up in the water

Water is made available to us through a process called the water cycle. The process begins with the evaporation of water from the earth’s surface. The sun heats the water creating a moisture vapor that rises into the atmosphere. When the atmosphere cools, the vapor condenses to form clouds. Eventually, the clouds will release moisture in the form of rain or snow depending on your location. When the rain hits the ground, some of this surface water will infiltrate, helping to recharge the underground aquifer. Some of the surface water will run off into canals. Finally, some of the surface water will be reheated by the sun and the water cycle will continue.

In our area of south Florida, we get our drinking water from surface water supplies. Surface water will runoff roof tops, over lawns and roadways into the storm drains or inlets. As this water travels across the surface it picks up sediment, trash, fertilizers, pesticides and oils washed off streets and lawns. Surface water will eventually flow through underground pipes making its way into the canal system which recharges the surficial aquifer and some municipal wellfields.

Residents can take simple steps to reduce or eliminate residential water pollution. Do not over apply fertilizers or pesticides on lawns and use specific spot treatments rather than general broadcast application methods. Spray on windless days and not before or during rain events. Dispose of unused paint and household chemicals correctly. Never dump them into toilets, sinks, storm drains or canals. Chemicals such as chlorine are very toxic to fish and animals. When draining hot tubs or pools, direct the water away from the canal. Wash cars with a minimum of detergent and wash on gravel or lawns to avoid runoff entering storm drains and canals. Sweep your walks and driveways instead of using a garden hose which can wash litter and pollutants into storm drains and canals. Remember, if it falls on the ground, it can end up in the water.