How To Keep Watersheds and Water Quality Healthy With These Tips and Strategies
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - With temperatures rising and outdoor activities becoming more frequent and favorable, Cliff Walls, the coordinator for the Greater Lansing Regional Committee for Stormwater Management, gave some strategies and tips on how Meridian residents can keep their watersheds healthy.
In terms of getting your car washed, Walls said the best practice for washing your car is utilizing a commercial car wash facility, especially if you’re going to clean your engine or the bottom of your car.
“A lot of people will typically use their driveway or the road and all the detergent and the grease and oil and grit of your vehicle will flow off the paved surfaces into storm drains which goes directly into our waterways,” Walls said.
However, if you can’t cover the expenses of a car wash facility, Walls said he suggests people check with their local ordinances to see if they can wash their cars on their lawn because the soil and grass will absorb the runoff from your car.
“And if you do it at home, we suggest you use phosphate-free soaps and biodegradable soaps,” Walls said.
Pet waste is also an environmental concern, and Walls said many people don’t recognize it as one because they believe the waste will degrade or decompose.
“It’s high in pathogens like hookworm and salmonella, and actually by weight, has more pathogens per ounce than cow manure,” Walls said. “The waste produced by dogs and cats in the tri-county area is the equivalent of the waste produced by all 50,000 residents of East Lansing.”
Walls said when pet waste is left on lawns or in parks and it rains, the bacteria and pathogens in pet waste will runoff into storm drains that go directly into our waterways. He said isolating waste to your lawn or parks has a downstream impact on water quality that affects not only the tri-county area, but places all over Michigan.
“It’s an environmental issue that doesn’t stay at home,” Walls said.
Walls said lawn fertilizers are also contributing to harmful practices in terms of water quality because the chemicals in fertilizer run off your lawn and enter waterways, creating excess growth in aquatic life which can make for an inhabitable environment.
“The best plan of action is to not use them and maybe consider converting your landscape into native plants or more natural landscape and installing plants that are adaptive to our environment and don’t need fertilizer,” Walls said. “But if you must use fertilizer, the timing and the amount of application is very important.”
Walls said if you absolutely need to fertilize your lawn, the best thing you can do is figure out when and how much fertilizer you need to apply by contacting your MSU Extension Office and getting a fertile test.
Walls said there are a variety of resources available to homeowners, residents and businesses on mywatershed.org and tips and strategies on how to maintain your homes and lawns while protecting water sources.
“The best thing is just to be mindful of our actions and understand that our actions on land and our land use within the watershed is impacting a much broader area than our immediate area,” Walls said.