Friday, September 3, 2010

All Water Leads to the Ocean

Earl has brought much needed rain to eastern long island. The runoff pollution is less desirable. 

The ocean water along the coast is now a lighter shade of blue-green than the deeper water offshore as freshwater from the rain pours into the ocean from the surrounding land -- literally runs off the land.

Granted, so far east out here, where there are not so many people and there is little development, there is likely not a lot of pollution in that runoff. Even so, there is still probably a fair amount of pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, and other nasties. Most places are less fortunate. Runoff, especially in and around major cities, is a big contributor to ocean pollution.

The rule of thumb is that all water leads to the ocean. Everything that washes off sidewalks, streets, buildings, parking lots, lawns, etc. eventually goes into the ocean. We should avoid whenever possible and remind people of this simple rule of thumb. Some cities have successfully implemented an elegant reminder -- they've spray painted images of fish on storm drains and even sidewalks.

Here is an thorough set of recommendations on how to avoid contributing to runoff pollution from the Long Island Sound Study.

Also, here are some ways to prevent runoff pollution from a municipal perspective from Ron Bottorff who looks after the Santa Clara river:  

Public education of citizens, business, and public agencies about the impacts of daily activities on urban runoff and stormwater quality can raise awareness and improve polluting behavior;

• Heed signage such as No Dumping and No Littering, that remind people about how stormwater drains lead straight to the ocean.

• Replace impervious surfaces such as asphalt with porous pavement to keep potential runoff on site and recharge it into the ground water for future use. Rerouting downspouts and drains to divert flow across porous surfaces can achieve the same results.

• Use site design to allow vegetation, topography, and hydrology (water flow patterns) to effectively maximize filtration, provide temporary retention and improve runoff quality. Examples include reduction of impervious surfaces and the replacement of typical storm drain pipes with natural conveyances.

• Control roof runoff by using rain barrels, cisterns, and rain gardens to store rainfall and runoff on site and allow for future water reuse.

• Design and maintain your irrigation/sprinkler system properly you do not over water or create excess urban runoff.

• Cover fueling areas to shelter them from rainfall to reduce the entry of such contaminates as oil, grease, and coolants into storm drains.

• Isolate vehicle washing areas so the wash water is directed to the sewage system in dry weather, to avoid putting phosphates, solvents, oil, and metals into storm drains.

• Isolate outside commercial and industrial processing and material storage areas to reduce runoff contamination. Using leak-proof sheds for containment of manufacturing materials and frequent lot sweeping are good housekeeping practices.

• Enclose or cover trash storage areas to avoid direct rainfall and to prevent loose trash and debris from being transported or blown into nearby drain inlets, channels and creeks.

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