The Big Sioux River Project works to educate individuals on how they can take action to improve water quality. Even if you do not have a pet or a yard to account for, there are actions that everyone can take to improve our impacts on the Big Sioux River watershed.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Medical Waste Disposal
Medicine is not intended to be disposed of down the drain or in the trash. Contact your city's hazardous or medical waste disposal department to see if there are prescription pill turn-in programs. Alternatively, contact your physician and return unused medications to their office.
Grass clippings, leaves, tree branches, and even pulled weeds can be composted, bagged, spread across lawns for winter insulation, or mulched and used in landscaping. When these items are not managed properly, they can clog storm drains and impede water flow. When they are disposed of improperly onto hillsides or riverbanks, clippings can kill existing vegetation and promote erosion.
Automotive Maintenance & Cleaning
For vehicle owners, it can be tempting to wash vehicles at home. Doing this over grass helps to provide a natural filter for not only cleaning products, but also oils, salts, and other chemicals. Car washes are equipped to filter and process this debris as well. Maintaining vehicles and fixing any leaks can help prevent water contamination as well.
Bioswales are landscape features that collect polluted storm water runoff, soak it into the ground, and filter out pollution. They also help to recharge groundwater. Bioswales are designed to capture runoff coming from larger areas of impervious surfaces like streets and parking lots. Advocate for these in new construction areas, public right-of-ways, and surrounding parking lots.
On private residences, rain gardens can be planted with grasses and flowering perennials to reduce runoff on the property. These are cost effective, beautiful opportunities to filter pollutants as well as provide food and shelter for butterflies, song birds, and other wildlife. Instead, the plants in these rain gardens help the water to soak into the ground and filter those pollutants. Rain gardens capture the rain that would usually runoff your property and into the storm drains.
Limit Chemical Applications
Excessive fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides applied to lawns that are not absorbed properly are washed into storm drains; ultimately deposited into the river. Limiting the amount of chemicals applied to lawns and gardens maximizes cost effectiveness, and reduces the input of chemicals to the watershed.
In addition to rain gardens, incorporating more native plants into your landscaping can help with water filtration and prevents runoff. Additionally, planting trees assists with water filtration and soil stabilization services while also shading and cooling the ground.
Pet Waste Removal
Pet waste is the main cause of contamination in urban areas. When pet waste is left on the ground, rainfall can carry the bacteria from yards and trails into the waterways. Picking up and properly bagging, then disposing of pet waste in the trash helps to reduce the E. coli bacteria input to the watershed.