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Limiting stormwater pollutants at home

Litter

Litter is the most obvious of all stormwater pollutants. It can block stormwater drains and pipes and obstruct the natural flow of local creeks and rivers. Litter can get caught around aquatic animals, or be mistaken as food by the animals, which often become sick or die as a result.

You can help by:

  • Putting your litter in the bin
  • Encouraging others to bin their litter
  • Picking up any litter that you see
  • Using covers on bins that are outside
  • Buying products with less or no packaging
  • Supporting the purchase of gutter guards for your local stormwater drains

Organic Matter

Leaves, lawn clippings and dog faeces can greatly affect the natural balance in our local creeks and rivers. Decaying organic matter in our waterways can cause aquatic plants and animals to be deprived of oxygen.

You can help by:

  • picking up your dog's faeces when you take it for a walk
  • sweeping up organic matter
  • composting organic matter
  • planting native trees and shrubs
  • encouraging the purchase of gutter guards for your local stormwater drains

Water Runoff

Water that is allowed to run off gardens, lawn, concrete or dirt during watering will pick up many contaminants that can harm aquatic plants and animals. This water must not be allowed to flow into the storm water system.

You can help by:

  • being ‘water wise' - use water sensibly on the garden and water all plants at the base (remember it's the plant's roots that absorb water, not the leaves)
  • planting native plants and shrubs as they require less water to grow

Pesticides

Pesticides are just as poisonous to our waterways as they are to the pests that we are trying to kill. Pesticides will poison aquatic life in our waterways if they are not used carefully. Over-watering of your garden, particularly when pesticide has just been used, will cause some of the pesticide to run into our local creeks and rivers.

You can help by:

  • Using pesticides sparingly
  • Avoiding their use near drains and waterways
  • Making sure pesticides are not used before rain or watering

Fertiliser

Fertilisers contain nutrients to help plants grow. When fertilisers are carried by runoff into creeks and rivers, the nutrients encourage algal growth. This increase in algae can deprive other aquatic plants and animals of oxygen.

You can help by:

  • Using compost on your garden
  • Using fertilisers sparingly
  • Avoiding their use near drains and waterways
  • Making sure fertilisers are not used before rain or watering

Waste Water

When water becomes contaminated during use it is called wastewater. Lots of activities outside the home produce wastewater. For example, when water is used for washing the car it becomes contaminated with detergents and dirt. It is then called wastewater. Sometimes wastewater can be reused. Other activities like cutting bricks, mixing concrete and general cleaning all produce wastewater that must not be allowed to enter the stormwater system.

You can help by:

  • Washing your car on the lawn or at an approved car wash facility
  • Containing wastewater and using it to water your garden
  • Learning the 'right' way to dispose of wastewater by contacting a Council Environmental Health Officer

Detergent

Detergents have a similar effect to fertilisers in our waterways as they contain phosphates that are a nutrient for plant growth. When detergents are washed into our local creeks and rivers via storm water the increase in nutrient levels can cause algal blooms. These blooms limit the amount of oxygen available for other aquatic plants and animals.

You can help by:

  • Using detergents sparingly outdoors
  • Washing your car on the lawn or at an approved car wash facility

Oil and Grease

Oil and grease that reaches our local creeks and rivers can cause many problems ranging from poisoning and smothering of aquatic life, to bad smelling and ugly waterways not suitable for any recreational activity. Oil and grease can be leached from stains on the roads and car parks when it rains, and then travel by stormwater into our waterways.

You can help by:

  • Cleaning up oil and grease stains
  • Never allowing oil to be washed down an outside drain
  • Keeping cars in good condition so they don't leak oil

Paint

Using drop sheets when painting outside will prevent paint from being washed into the stormwater system. Paints can be extremely dangerous for aquatic life.

You can help by:

  • Using a drop sheet when painting so that spills can be picked up
  • Never allowing paint to be washed down an outside drain
  • Never spray painting outside