Virginia's rivers and their tributaries are important, productive natural and recreational resources. Help them stay this way by reading about these simple ways to do your part for the commonwealth's water quality.
Start in your own home or backyard - Practice good
stewardship at home. Water is a valuable commodity and conserving it can
save your family money. Turn water off while brushing your teeth and
repair leaks. A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water a day, and
a leaking toilet can waste 200! Wash cars and water lawns during
off-peak hours and use a timer as a reminder for turning off water.
Learn how to have environmentally friendly, healthy lawns and gardens by
downloading A Virginian's Year-Round Guide to Yard Care: Tips and Techniques for Healthy Lawns and Gardens (PDF).
Change the scenery - Cut down lawn maintenance, prevent soil
erosion and get better results from fertilizers by using shrubs and
trees and mulched areas instead of grassed lawn space. Lawn care
practices, beginning with soil testing, can have a tremendous effect on
water quality if each homeowner in the commonwealth plans carefully.
Using native plant varieties suited to particular climates and
conditions won't require extra fertilizer or watering. A good reference
is the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage
publication Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration and Landscaping
(coastal plain, piedmont and mountain versions). Contact a local
nursery or garden center to ask about alternatives to lawns. Another
source is a local chapter of the Virginia Society of Landscape
Architects or your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.
Follow directions - Always read labels and follow
instructions for fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to prevent
excess chemicals from washing away with rainfall into storm drains.
These drains lead directly to the nearest water supply. Ask for an
expert's opinion about using the proper type and rate for fertilizer.
Be a pooper-scooper - Did you know that your pet's waste
contributes to nonpoint source pollution? There are things you can do to
take care of this nasty problem.
Car care and household chemicals
- Keeping cars in good shape helps the environment. It's important to
know that products used for your car and cleaning your house can be
toxic and damage natural resources when not properly handled. Learn how
to safely dispose of motor oil, antifreeze, batteries and household
chemicals. Dumping chemicals down a storm drain is not practicing good
stewardship. One gallon of used motor oil can pollute up to two million
gallons of water. For more information, contact Virginia's Department of
Environmental Quality at (804) 698-4000.
Volunteer in your community with neighbors and other concerned citizens
- Clean storm drains and gutters. It may not seem like a big deal, but
debris can cause problems in streams and other bodies of water. You and
your neighbors can regularly clean leaves, twigs and other trash from
gutters and storm drains. Dispose of this debris properly so that it
doesn't lead to stream pollution (some landfills don't accept natural
Become a water quality monitor - Looking for a great project
for a class, a service organization or a citizens' group? You've found
it. Monitoring shows what's happening in a stream or lake and how
problems vary by site and situation. Results keep people aware of how
activities impact their local water quality and can help communities
make decisions based on good data and information.
Be a responsible park visitor - Enjoy Virginia's parks but
remember to respect the outdoors. When hiking, carry a bag and pick up
litter. Stay on marked trails - their locations are designed to minimize
impacts to the environment such as damaged habitat and increased soil
erosion. Use park-provided wood rather than fallen wood for campfires.
Fallen wood is important habitat for birds, reptiles and other animals.
Avoid burning paper or trash even where fires are allowed; they can
release air pollutants and leave unwanted residue in the soil. Use camp
Value and conserve wetlands - Wetlands are tidal and
non-tidal bogs, marshes or swamps. They provide valuable fish and
wildlife habitat, help control erosion, and purify water by trapping and
filtering pollutants. Be sure to contact a local wetlands board, the
Virginia Marine Resources Commission or Department of Environmental
Quality before beginning an activity that disturbs wetlands.