The City of south Haven asks you to do your part to protect our water resources.
What is stormwater?
After a rain or snow melt, water runs over the land to the nearest storm drain, ditch, creek, river or lake. This is called stormwater. The quantity of stormwater entering our rivers and lakes along with the pollutants it carries can degrade aquatic habitat and water quality. We can all take simple steps to reduce stormwater pollution. After all, the cheapest way to stop pollution is at the source.
What is stormwater pollution and where does it come from?
Actually, it comes from all of us. Even if we don’t mean to, many of our everyday actions add to stormwater pollution. Stormwater picks up oil, metals and salts, pet waste, fertilizer, grass clippings and other materials left on sidewalks and streets before it enters a catch basin. In most areas with storm sewer systems, this polluted runoff washes from the catch basins straight into the nearest lake or river without being treated. Stormwater is different than wastewater from toilets and sinks, which goes to a treatment plant before being discharged into the river.
What else is polluting Michigan's rivers?
Bacteria is also a serious problem. E. coli is the strain of bacteria that people hear about most, because it indicates the presence of other disease-causing bacteria. E. coli lives in the digestive systems of humans and animals, and can be found in sewage. In some places, sanitary sewers have been incorrectly connected to storm drains, causing sewage to enter our waterways. Cracks and leaks also allow stormwater to get into sanitary sewers during major storms, overwhelming our treatment plants and causing sewage overflows. Fixing these problems is expensive and time-consuming, but our communities are working hard to identify and correct them. Other sources of E. coli could include septic systems which haven’t been maintained, pet waste, wildlife (such as geese) and agricultural operations.
Here are a few things you can do for cleaner water in the Black River and Lake Michigan:
- Use a pooper scooper! Bacteria, parasites and viruses from pet waste can easily wash into storm drains and end up in the river without being treated.
- Limit your pesticide and fertilizer use. Fertilizers and pesticides are some of the biggest pollutants of all. Limit fertilizer use (only use phosphorous free) and do not rake or sweep your grass clippings near a catch basin.
- Check for and fix fuel and oil leaks on your vehicles. When it rains, grease and oil drippings wash into storm drains, and go straight into our rivers and streams. Wash your car on the lawn or go to a car wash (where the water goes to a wastewater treatment plant). Dirt and oils you wash off can harm fish and animals if it goes straight in the storm drain. Grass filters pollutants — and you’ll water your lawn at the same time!
- Only Rain Down the Drain! In other words, use trash cans! Even if it means a slight inconvenience for you, it’s better off for everyone who shares Michigan's rivers.