We learned all about stormwater in my last blog. I ended that blog with a little cliff hanger saying I would talk about how we can do our part to keep stormwater free from pollutants and reduce the amount of stormwater we create in this blog. So, here I am to fulfill my promise…
Stormwater can be a daunting topic, but if stormwater is managed effectively, it can be redirected to serve beneficial purposes:
- It can help to recharge our aquifers (a major source of potable water), and
- It can be directed into stormwater ponds which can provide essential habitat for a variety of plants and animals.
The neat part about my job is not only do I get to educate you on topics like stormwater, but I also get to help you discover small ways you can contribute to the betterment our local environment. So, what are some things you can do to help offset the negative effects of stormwater?
Reduce Nutrient Inputs
Huh? There are a lot of activities we do regularly that contribute to increase amounts of nutrients in the waterways. While we often think of nutrients as a good thing, in excess, they can be bad. If you have a yard and/or a pet, then there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your contribution to polluted stormwater:
- First, determine if you really even need to fertilize
- Be sure to read the labels and only use recommended quantities
- Avoid using fertilizer near waterways or before a rain event
- Try to limit or forgo fertilizing in the summer
- Pinellas County does have an ordinance against nitrogen fertilizer in the summer months.
Pick up after your pet
- While poop does contain a lot of nutrients, those nutrients are not meant to be in the environment. You can read more about that in one of my other blogs.
Reduce Other Inputs
Stormwater picks up litter and sediments along its journey. Trash in our waterways is not only an eye sore, but a possible source of harm to wildlife if ingested. Sediments can muddy our waters, causing issues with plants in the water getting the light they need. Fortunately, both issues are easy to fix!
Pick up litter
- Whether it’s yours or not, every bit of trash we pick up will prevent it from entering our waterways and potentially harming aquatic species and/or water quality.
- Participate in one of the many organized cleanup events hosted by nonprofits in the county.
- Make it a routine to always carry a garbage bag with you to collect trash throughout the day.
- If you see someone littering intentionally, you can report violations on “See, Click, Fix” or report polluters to email@example.com
- In addition to preventing soil erosion, planting vegetation (especially native plants) provide additional benefits in the form of food and shelter for area wildlife. Plants also play a vital role in filtering out pollutants in stormwater.
- There are many organizations working to protect water quality in Pinellas County and most meetings are open to the public. Seek out opportunities to speak up about any concerns you have for your local waters; it starts with you caring and wanting to make a difference.
- If you made it to this point of my blog, kudos to you for sticking with me! Now that you are educated about stormwater, please share what you learned with a friend. As I often say, “I’m only one person trying to reach close to one million people.”
There are so many ways to be involved in helping water quality in Pinellas County. This is by no means an exhaustive list:
- See if you qualify for the Adopt-A-Pond program
- Enroll in the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Incentives Program
- Participate in the pilot Adopt-A-Drain program (coming soon!)
- Attend UF/IFAS Extension programs focusing on water
- Check out the following organizations to see how you can get involved:
- 1 Piece Each
- Byrne Ocean Conservation
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium
- Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot
- Keep Pinellas Beautiful
- Ocean Allies
- Sea Turtle Trackers
- Suncoast Sierra Club
- Suncoast Surfrider Foundation
- Tampa Bay Estuary Program
- Tampa Bay Watch
- Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
- Turn the Tide for Tarpon