Prevent - Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership


Stormwater Pollution

Choose two Best Management Practices or BMPs in order to improve and protect our water quality. Then choose two more, before you know it preventing water pollution will become a good habit you practice each and every day.

Prevention Menu of Best Management Practice

Squash a litterbug!  

  • Keep the lid closed on dumpsters and recycling bins to prevent unintentional litter from hitting the streets.
  • Schedule a parking lot / neighborhood litter clean-up, especially in the early spring and late fall.
  • To encourage CIGARETTE BUTTS from being thrown out car windows or dropped on the ground, which is littering, plain and simple, pprovide staff and customers with a clearly marked receptacle.

Adopt a storm drain

  • Keep your storm drains free of debris especially litter and leaves.
  • Make sure your storm drain is labeled "Dump No Waste Drains to Streams" to remind staff and visitors alike that your property is connected directly to the closest stream.
  • Report illegal dumping - if its not rain - its not legal.  Once reported, most communities have a notice that goes out to the entire neighborhood reminding all neighbors that storm drains are a direct connection to our waterways.

Landscapes that do no harm

Don't go "bare" for very long.  If you have areas in your landscape without grass or mulch that area is subject to erosion when it rains.  Reseed those area  and work to keep your turf healthy and strong.

Got grass clippings?  Work with staff or your contracted landscaper to ensure they mulch mowing (mow without collecting the grass clippings) to return nutirents back to your landscape.  If you mulch mow, make sure the mower faces the yard at all times - not the street or driveway.  If grass clippings do end up on the street or on the drive, sweep them up, if not you - they can be swept away with the next rain and clog up the storm drain - generating a awful stink as they slowly decompose.

Before fertilizing test your soil to determine the nutrients it needs - most soil in Iowa has plenty of Phosphurs in it already - double check to make sure if you need it or not.  If it doesn't need it - purchase fertilizer that is Phosphorus or "P" Free.  Phosphorus is the "P" in the NPK (N = Nitrogen and K=Potassium) and is the middle number on fertilizer bags.  "P" is the leading cause of algae growth in detention basins and Iowa lakes.  The less we use, the more likely your neighborhood detention basin will be algae free.  If you do fertilizer, avoid overfertilizing - let your soil test determine how much of what you apply on your lawn!

The same goes for herbicides and all pesticides and fertilizers - the least toxic product as possible (some weeds are killed by hot salt water), buy only what you need and use it all up.  If you have extra, be sure to safely recycle any leftover product with your local Regional Household Hazardous Material Collection Center - most centers in Iowa service small businesses.

Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles & RVs

If you plan wash any vehicles try to do so on a grassy area, allowing the water to absorb into the ground rather than draining away down the street and into the closest storm drain.  If that isn't possible, run the water through some sort of filter before it heads down the storm drain.  ALSO - the soap you choose matters as well - as with lawn fertilizers, try to go "P" free here too.  The best bet though is going to a car wash - they send all wash water down the sanitary sewer for treatment, instead of the storm sewer and no treatment.

The rainbows seen in parking lots puddles after it rains is evidence of hydrocarbons (oil leaks) from cars and trucks.  To be sure your fleet is leak free so it doesn't contribute to water pollution make sure all leaks are fixed in record time and keep our streets, driveways and parking lots clean.

Dispose of oil and other automotive fluids in a safe manner - never dump on the ground, down the storm drain or in the garbage can.  You should be able to recycle any oil and other automotive fluids for free at most retailers who sell them.  Check with your neighborhood store, like AutoZone, NAPA or O'Reilly's to see what can be recycled with them for free (includes lead acid batteries, anything metal and other fluids.)  Never store these items outside, uncovered exposed to rain or other water.

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