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There are many simple things you can do around the home to improve water quality in the Great Lakes. Start by selecting two steps from the following list. After these have become habits for you and your family, add two more!
Take unused pharmaceuticals to a disposal center — Treatment plants are not set up to remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater, so drugs end up in our lakes where they may harm wildlife reproduction.
Don’t dump anything down storm drains — It flows right into our lakes and rivers.
Use environmentally safe cleaning products — Safer substitutes, like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, salt, borax, olive oil and cedar chips can get the job done just as well as their more hazardous counterparts.
Clean up after your pets — Pet waste releases potentially harmful bacteria and oxygen-consuming materials if it is allowed to enter our waterways.
Choose your lawn fertilizer wisely — Fertilizer can run off of yards when it rains and contaminate our waters. Generally, only new lawns require phosphorus for root growth. Choose a fertilizer that is phosphorus-free. In many instances soils already contain a sufficient amount of phosphorus which can be detrmined by a soil test.
Buy non-toxic products — Water treatment facilities are unable to remove many toxins found in common household goods.
Take used compact fluorescent light bulbs and mercury thermostats and thermometers to a hazardous waste facility — They contain mercury which accumulates in the food chain and is a poison for humans and wildlife.
Divert rain spouts onto grass or landscaping — It reduces water speed and increases the time over which it is released into the drain system. Sidewalks and driveways do not allow runoff to seep into the ground.
Don’t pour unused cleaners down the drain — Many chemicals cannot be treated at the sewage treatment plant and end up in our lakes and rivers.
Keep toxic products out of the reach of children and pets — They can get sick from exposure.
Take toxic products to a hazardous waste facility — If not properly disposed, they can contaminate drinking water and kill fish, animals and plants.
Use dishwashing soap that doesn't contain phosphates — Phosphate-based detergents may spur algal blooms, which can harbor bacteria and create a terrible odor.
Take used motor oil to a disposal site — Motor oil damages or kills underwater vegetation and aquatic life. One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of water.
Don’t pour grease down sink drains — It builds up in sewer lines, restricting the capacity of the pipes. Eventually, the pipes can become blocked completely, leading to overflows of raw sewage into streets, storm drains and our waterways.
Maintain foliage to prevent soil erosion — Soil in runoff increases the sediment load in waterways, carries contaminants and blocks the sunlight necessary for aquatic plants.
Plant native species in your garden —They decrease water dependence, reduce the need for fertilizer and pest control, and create a renewed sense of place for birds and other wildlife.
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