On a large scale, there is not a lot the average person can do to prevent surface water contamination, which generally occurs as a result of hazardous substances that enter bodies of water through runoff or other drainage. And these hazardous materials may be comprised of anything from chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to tailings from mining operations, to contaminants in the air that settle and build up in soil, just for example. But there are steps you can take to cut back on your personal contributions to surface water contamination, especially if you live in a watershed.
You can start by thinking about the chemicals you use on your landscaping. When you use chemical fertilizers and pesticides around your home, these toxins not only seep into the soil, but they can contribute to contaminated runoff each time it rains (or even when your sprinklers go on each day). This waste water gets washed into gutters that eventually feed into the nearest body of water, polluting it. Instead of contaminating the water that makes your community beautiful, try natural forms of fertilization and pest control to reduce your part in the process of pollution.
Of course, the contaminants outside your home pale in comparison to the ones you wash down the drain on a daily basis. In case you didn’t know, your household wastewater gets pumped to a sewage treatment facility where it is put through a variety of processes intended to make it, well, nearly clean enough to drink. Don’t worry – this water does not return to the faucets in your home. Instead it is dumped in the nearest large body of water, in most cases. But if it were deemed safe for drinking, people might actually be a bit more careful about what goes down the drain.
In any case, you can do a lot to limit the contaminants that reach the water supply by your hand. You can start by becoming aware of the harmful items you’re flushing or washing down the drain. From there you can dispose of hazardous chemicals the right way – by dropping them off at your local hazardous waste collection facility. Many of these facilities offer the option for free drop-offs at intervals (say once a month) or they allow every citizen 1-2 free drop-offs each year. If you do a little research you may never have to pay to dispose of hazardous materials.
You should also save your leftover cooking grease in a jar to throw away rather than dumping it down the drain (this will also help you to avoid clogs), stop throwing items in the toilet that aren’t toilet paper (such as tissues and feminine hygiene products), and consider composting (or simply throwing away) organic matter rather than running it through the garbage disposal. These practices won’t stop chemical runoff from industry or contribute to environmental remediation, but they will really help to limit your contributions to local water contamination.
In addition, you’ll want to conserve water as much as possible. The clean, drinkable water that sustains life on our planet is limited and you don’t want to waste it. So while doing your part to prevent surface water contamination is a good start, you should also consider installing low-flow toilets, aerated faucets, and even motion-sensor faucets to cut back on water usage. To some degree, you can leave environmental remediation up to experts like Microbial Insights Inc. , just for example. But it doesn’t hurt to do your part to keep the water in your area clean and free of contamination.