What You Can Do

Top Tips for Preventing Stormwater Pollution

Keep Yard Waste Out Of Storm Drains

Yard waste in the street or on a stream bank can wash away and clog storm drains and streams. This can cause local flooding and harm fish and aquatic organisms.

Prevent Muddy Streams

Sediment or mud is one of the top pollutants in NC’s waterways. It’s harder for fish and aquatic organisms to breathe and reproduce in waterways filled with sediment.

  • If a construction site is causing muddy streets, storm drains or streams, report the problem to your local municipality.
  • Cover areas of bare soil with mulch, grass or other vegetation.

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Scoop The Poop

Hundreds of thousands of pet waste hits the ground every day in our region. If even a fraction is left on the ground, it’s still a large source of bacteria for stormwater, streams and lakes.

  • Scoop the Poop in a bag and throw it away, even if the waste is in your own yard.

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Practice “Green” Yard Care

Extra fertilizers and chemicals in the yard equals wasted money and polluted streams and lakes.

  • Soil test every couple years! Find out how much fertilizer your yard really needs.  Contact your county’s Cooperative Extension Service office about picking up a free kit.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn for a natural fertilizer.
  • Sweep up fertilizer that spills on to the driveway or sidewalks.
  • More information about maintaining a healthy yard and minimizing chemical applications:
    Green Yard Care tips brochure
    Sustainable Fescue Lawns in the Piedmont Presentation
    Guide to Yard Waste and Lawn Care Brochure

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Use A Carwash, Not The Driveway

Oils, metals and soap washed off cars are harmful to streams.

  • If you wash cars or anything else outside, wash it on the grass where water will soak into the ground. Better yet, use a car wash where water goes to a wastewater treatment plant.


We can all make a difference, especially when we work together. Help teach kids the value of volunteering, the beauty of our local waterways, and how we can each protect them.

  • Contact your local municipality to ask what volunteer opportunities are available to help prevent pollution and keep our storm drains clear and our streams and lakes clean.

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Report Pollution

Responding quickly to water pollution is critical for preventing damage.

  • When you smell or see something unusual in storm drains, streams or lakes, report it!
  • Call your local municipality to report a pollution problem.

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Dispose Of Wash Water Properly

Dirty water from washing or rinsing items around your house and yard is a common source of stormwater pollution.

  • Dispose of dirty water in a sink where the water will go to a sewage treatment plant.
  • If rinsing or washing your tools or equipment inside isn’t possible, do it on your lawn where the water will soak in and not enter a storm drain.

Reduce The Volume Of Stormwater

Less stormwater equals less stream bank erosion and sediment pollution. Rain barrels and rain gardens reduce the volume of stormwater reaching streams during a storm.

  • Buy a Rain Barrel. Some Soil and Water Conservation District offices sell rain barrels, which range in price from $95 to $110, or they can be purchased online from various vendors.
  • Build a Rain Garden. See the Rain Garden Network for step-by-step directions, photos, and plant lists. Yards with heavy clay soils should install an under-drain.

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Recycle Unwanted Hazardous Household Chemicals

Just one gallon of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) can pollute millions of gallons of water.  Don’t dump it down a storm drain or down the sink or toilet.

  • HHWs are chemicals used in homes that are toxic, flammable, corrosive and/or explosive.
  • Examples: used motor oil, turpentine, nail polish, drain cleaner, degreasers, bug and weed spray, oil based paint, moth balls, carpet cleaners, and oven cleaners.
  • Many counties and municipalities have household hazardous waste drop-off centers or special events where products can be recycled for free. Contact your local municipality to inquire.
  • Many commercial auto part stores and auto repair shops accept used oil from residents.

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About Stormwater
Stormwater Pollution
Impacts of Pollution