Waukesha County

What causes water pollution?
Runoff happens when rain or snowmelt flows across pavement or soil to the nearest lake, river or stream. Runoff picks up a variety of pollutants, such as oil, gas, fertilizers, animal waste, grass clippings, pesticides and lots more. Dirty runoff then goes into the nearest storm drain and is delivered to the nearest lake, stream, or river. Contrary to popular belief, the storm drains are not connected to the sewage treatment plant. This water is not treated or cleaned in any way.

What can we do?
Since water pollution comes from everyone and everywhere, we can all lend a hand to stopping pollution from entering our water. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Wash the car on the lawn or at a car wash. This keeps dirty, soapy water from running down the street into the storm drains and into our waterways.
  • Pick up after your dog. Pet waste is becoming one of the leading sources of bacteria in our waters. Waste should be flushed down the toilet, buried in the yard or placed into a pet waste composter.
  • Sweep grass clippings off the driveway, sidewalk, curb or other paved areas. Grass clippings add nutrients to our waters resulting in excessive weed growth and algae bloom.
  • Keep leaves out of the gutter. Rake them alongside the curb and cover them if pick-up day is several days away. Leaves also add nutrients causing the same problems as grass clippings and other natural materials.
  • Limit chemical and fertilizer use. Test your soil so you know what is needed. Use only the amounts directed on the label - never more. More becomes an easy target for runoff and usually ends up in our waters.
  • Direct downspouts to the lawn instead of the driveway. This simple task will reduce the amount of runoff that gets into our storm drains. Reduced runoff results in reduced runoff pollution!
  • Sweep fertilizers off the driveway, sidewalk, curb or other paved areas and back into the yard. Any fertilizer left on pavement will quickly be picked up by moving water and moved into our waterways.