The month of August has been selected to promote the major role water quality plays in our lives and highlight how we can protect the quality of our sources of fresh water.
In the Northern hemisphere, August represents the “dog days” of summer. It is the time of year when soaring temperatures inspire many people to retreat to the water. Fishing, swimming, boating or just spending time on the beach are popular activities enjoyed by thousands, but if we are not careful, human activity on or near the water can have a profound impact on the quality of water.
August is also the time of year when water levels are at their lowest due to heightened agricultural demand during the preceding growing season and increased evaporation caused by the higher temperatures during the summer months. This intensifies the impact on water quality caused by careless human activity.
Summer rains can quickly and easily wash any contaminants on the ground into the local watershed. This would include any excess chemicals from fertilizers or weed killers, any fluids which may have leaked from vehicles, along with any pesticides which may have been used in the surrounding areas. Industrial spills and untreated animal waste can also further impact water quality.
A recently discovered source of water quality contamination is treated waste water. With the increased use of pharmaceuticals in society and water treatment plants’ inability to properly remove these excess chemicals, many harmful substances are making their way into the watershed and negatively affecting the local fish and wildlife. This in turn affects anyone eating the impacted fauna.
Although this may seem like a problem too large for you to manage, every action taken by every individual can help or harm water quality. What can you do?
- Don’t litter. Trash gets washed into the storm sewer and can make it way into our streams and rivers.
- Maintain your vehicles. Properly maintained vehicles are less likely to leak fluids onto roadways and driveways were they can get washed into the storm sewer.
- Reduce the chemicals added to your lawn and garden. Excess fertilizer and weed killer can enter the watershed and have an adverse effect on fish and other water dwelling wildlife.
- Wash your car at a carwash. Carwashes treat and recycle the water they use to remove soaps and waxes.
- Maintain your septic system. Improperly maintained septic systems can have a negative impact on the groundwater.
- Clean up any chemical spills. Washing spills down the drain can allow them to get into the watershed.
- Properly dispose of any excess medication. Flushing left over medication down the toilet introduces these chemicals into the waste water system.
- Clean up after your pets.
To verify that your water is safe, we recommend the use of the Heron Conductivity Plus.
The conductivity Plus is a quick and easy way to detect any salt water intrusion or many other contaminants which may be infiltrating your water system. The public health department also offers an annual free water analysis in most areas.