Winter is just around the corner, and though this is great news if you are an avid skier or pond hockey player, for most of us winter also means getting up early to shovel snow from our walkways and cars before starting our drive to work or school. It's hard to imagine that during these long, dark days of winter, anyone is thinking about the impact winter weather has on the quality of our lakes and streams. However, once you have had a chance to thaw out from your latest winter activity, consider that all the snow and ice you've been enjoying, or just plain coping with, will eventually melt and drain directly to our streams and rivers. Snow, just like rain, has the ability to accumulate and transport pollutants to our local water resources. Stormwater runoff can cause water contamination and blockages which may lead to flooding.
Be Careful What Goes Down Your Storm Drains
The following items should not be dumped into storm drains:
- Car wash soaps
- Excess salt from deicing
- Household and automobile hazardous waste, including paint, oil, batteries or other toxic materials
- Leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste
- Pet waste
Environmentally Friendly Snow Removal
Excess salt and other deicing chemicals can harm aquatic life in our streams and impact drinking water supplies. This winter, you can help by following these environmentally friendly snow removal practices:
- Shovel snow before it turns to ice to limit the need for deicing chemicals like rock salt.
- Shovel snow onto permeable surfaces, including gently sloping and level landscape and grassy areas, so that as the snow melts it will soak into the ground, rather than flow directly into a nearby storm drain or stream.
If you must use deicing chemicals, follow these suggestions:
- Consider using salt substitutes that are less harmful to the environment and to concrete walkways, including Calcium Chloride, Calcium Magnesium Acetate, cat litter, and beet juice.
- Control application of chemical deicers. A little goes a long way, so avoid applying too much.
- Limit chemical applications near environmentally sensitive areas, such as drinking water wells.
Report a Violation
If you see someone dumping any of the above materials down a storm drain, or know of a site that seems to be a problem, call City Engineer Steve Farst at 614-836-5301 to report a potential violation.
Remember that everything washed or thrown into a storm drain flows directly to our streams and rivers. Help protect out local water resources. Ensure that only stormwater is entering our storm system, and become part of the stormwater pollution solution in your neighborhood!
To learn more about where to properly dispose of household hazardous waste like paints, solvents, and batteries, contact the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) at 614-871-5100.