The Pool Communities are investing millions in infrastructure to abate CSO discharges, prevent localized flooding and address capital needs in their systems. Aside from supporting your local public works or water department, what can you do at your home of business to help improve water quality?
Rain barrels can provide homeowners with access to free rainwater for irrigation, gardens and washing vehicles. When installed under a downspout that would otherwise drain to an impervious surface or directly to a sewer line, the barrels can help reduce combined sewer overflows and improve water quality for receiving waters. Recognizing the benefits of rain barrels, the Albany County Soul and Water Conservation District sells rain barrels. Supply is limited, so contact the district for status.
Below, find helpful resources on the benefits, installation and maintenance of rain barrels.
- City of Albany Rain Barrel Brochure
- Rain Barrel Power Point
- How To Build A Rain Barrel
- Homeowner Rain Barrel Maintenance sheet
- Rain Barrel Set-Up and Maintenance Guidance by Albany Stormwater Coalition
Auto Repair and Maintenance
Pollutants from automobile-related activities may include heavy metals, asbestos, oil, grease antifreeze, coolant and more. These may be essential to keeping your car in tip-top shape, but when they end up in local water bodies they can wreak havoc for aquatic life. They can also present risks to human health because of their toxicity. To prevent these pollutants from reaching stormwater, here are a few helpful tips:
- Use kitty litter to clean up spills.
- Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface.
- Never hose down repair areas to storm drains.
- Recycle fluids or ensure they are disposed of properly – NEVER anything down the storm drain.
- Recycle batteries immediately.
- Use drip pans to capture fluids.
- Eliminate the use of chlorinated solvents which are toxic and hard to dispose of. Use detergents or water based cleaners.
- Fit storage tanks with spill and overflow containment.
- Pour wash water into the sink, never into a catch basin.
- See more tips here.
Everything you apply to your lawn to make it look great has the potential to end up in a creek, stream or lake where it can impact water quality or lead to the proliferation of invasive species and toxic algae blooms. Phosphorous and Nitrogen rich fertilizers may yield the biggest tomatoes on your street, but if not applied property, fertilizers containing these ingredients can end up where they never belong – in nearby water bodies – and destroy the natural balance.
- Cover and contain top soil and mulch piles when not in use.
- Compost mulch and leaves instead of sending them to the dump. Ensure lawn waste is not left in the street where it can wash into storm drains.
- Avoid using lawn chemicals and fertilizers in areas where they could wash into streams or storm drains.
- Avoid applying lawn chemicals and fertilizer in windy conditions.
- Never use pesticides or fertilizers when rain is in the immediate forecast.
- Plant gardens of native drought and pest resistant plants to collect and filter rainwater, Native plants don’t need as much fertilizer to survive.
Pools, Fountains and Hot tubs
The water used in these amenities can be hazardous to the environment. The same chlorine that helps keep your pool safe for swimming can kill essential bacteria in natural water courses.
- Never drain pools, fountains or hot tubs to a storm drain or nearby water body. If there is no suitable lawn area to discharge, call your municipality before emptying your pool into the sanitary system and drain the pool slowly using a low volume pump or siphon. Never drain in the rain!
- Never clean filters in a street or over a storm drain.
- Do not use copper-based agleasides. Control algae with substances like sodium bromide.
- Make sure water used to acid wash a pool or fountain is neutralized prior to discharge. Soda ash can be used to keep the pH between 6 and 7 before discharging.
Construction and Home Improvement
- Clean paint brushes in the sink, not outdoors.
- Contact your local municipality find out dates and places to properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program.
- Sweep up construction debris to prevent it from washing into a water body to a catch basin.
- Clean up spills right away.
- Fill tanks over porous surfaces, away from sewers, storm drains or ditches.
- Have your septic system inspected one every three years.
At Your Business
- Keep dumpster and garbage can lids closed.
- Inspect dumpsters regularly to ensure there are no leaks. Repair or replace damaged dumpsters.
- Encourage employees to sweep and keep areas clear of litter to prevent it from blowing down the street.
- Install grease traps and collect bulk grease for recycling. Don’t forget to ensure spill prevention is part of the storage system. Never pour grease down the drain!
- Clean floor mats, filters, mops and garbage cans in a slop or janitorial sink. Not the parking lot, alley or the street.
- Have clean-up materials neat dumpsters, loading and delivery areas.
- See more tips here.
Until Murphy learns to use the bathroom, he’s got to do his business outside. It’s a fact – no one enjoys scooping poop, but it’s your responsibility as a pet owner or caregiver to prevent pet waste from ending up in streams and lakes Pet waste is loaded with bacteria that can make people sick. When left on the ground, rainwater and melting snow can wash it into storm drains and waterways polluting streams, beaches, and drinking water.
- Pick up after your pet.
- Properly dispose of pet waste by flushing it down the toilet or placing it in a sealed bag in the trash.
- Never put waste down the storm drains, in catch basins or in bodies of water.
- On the subject of dogs and water quality – NEVER let your dog come in contact with water you believe is contaminated with an algal bloom. Many types of blooms are FATAL to dogs. Learn to recognize these toxic blooms here.
Install a Rain Garden!
Rain gardens are excellent ways to beautify your property and manage stormwater at the same time. Below, find some handy resources to learn more about the benefits, construction and maintenance of rain gardens.
- Stormwater Coalition Green Infrastructure Guidance Manual for Homeowners-Downspouts, Rain Gardens, Rain Barrels
- UCONN Rain Garden Design Guide
- University of Wisconsin Rain Garden Manual
- Vermont Rain Garden Manual
Special thanks to the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County for the development of many of the materials referenced above.
When outside, dispose of trash in a receptacle
During periods of rain or other precipitation, trash and other debris make their way into the sewage systems which are then carried to the waste water treatment facility.
Properly use and dispose of chemicals and prescriptions
Find your local prescription take back facility or chemical recycling facility. When prescription meds or chemicals like gasoline, oils or paint meds are flushed, they are carried to the waste water treatment facility and extra care is involved to filter them from water before reintroducing the treated water into the Hudson River.
Make sure storm drains are clear of leaves, grass trimmings or other debris
This allows rain water to flow freely into the drains and reduce the likelihood of localized flooding.
Flush only toilet paper when using the restroom
Feminine products, goldfish or other non-toilet paper products make their way to the waste water treatment facility and are removed before the treated water is reintroduced to the Hudson River. Less debris allows for more water to be efficiently treated.