What you can do to help
Many human activities pollute Florida’s sensitive waterways. In the area of the Flagler County wetland restoration project, man-made sources of pollution include:
- Storm water carrying lawn fertilizers, sediments, pesticides, roadway grease and trash
- Animal wastes
- Septic tanks, particularly those located near the waterway or in areas where effluent rapidly enters groundwater or surface water
So, how can the local community help improve or maintain water quality? Here are some tips.
When fertilizing your lawn and landscape, applying the correct amount of fertilizer can reduce the amount of pollutants reaching waterways, save water, result in a healthier landscape, and save you money. Too much fertilizer often washes into storm drains and waterways, stimulates excessive plant growth, aggravates pest problems, and increases the need for more frequent irrigation.
- Apply fertilizers sparingly and follow the manufacturer’s directions on the bag, particularly in the amount per application. Know exactly how much area (square footage) of your lawn the bag of fertilizer is intended to cover.
- Use fertilizer with slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
- Florida soil is naturally high in phosphorus. “No phosphate” fertilizer is fine for most mature lawns — and much better for our waterways.
- Fertilize only during the growing season. Allow a month between autumn application and the first freezing temperatures.
Maintain Your Septic System
While not designed to remove nutrients, a properly designed, constructed and maintained septic system can serve your home as efficiently as a central sewer system. A system that does not receive proper care and attention can be a financial burden and a health threat.
- Know the location and capacity of your septic tank and drainfield and have a licensed contractor inspect the tank at least every three years and pump it out if needed.
- Keep records of inspections, pumping activity, repairs and other work.
- Install the system at an appropriate distance from nearby waterways (75 feet from a water body; see http://www.floridahealth.gov/statistics-and-data/eh-tracking-and-reporting/_documents/64-e6.pdf) and design it so that rainfall and surface water will flow away from the drainfield.
- Install water conservation devices or fixtures to reduce the total volume of water entering the system. For more information, visit https://www.cityofflaglerbeach.com/299/Water-Conservation.
- Never flush paper towels, newspapers, diapers, cat litter, sticks or toxic materials, such as pesticides, into the system.
- Never overuse ordinary household cleaning chemicals that will be flushed into the system.
- Never use chemical solvents to clean plumbing lines or a septic tank system, which can kill the microorganisms that consume harmful wastes in the system and can pollute the groundwater.
Minimize Harm from Stormwater Runoff
Regardless of where you live, the rain that runs off your roof, lawn and driveway eventually ends up in the nearest water body by flowing over land and into storm drains. Storm drains are direct conduits to a stormwater pond or a natural waterway. Water that enters a storm drain does not go to a treatment plant. Therefore, it is important to never dump anything into a storm drain.
- Don’t dump waste oil, chemicals or paint into ponds, inlets or storm drains. Contact your local government’s waste management department for a list of disposal facilities.
- Repair automobile leaks immediately to reduce runoff carrying oil and heavy metals, such as lead, copper and cadmium, that will impact waterways.
- Dispose of household hazardous wastes such as antifreeze, used motor oil and batteries at designated collection or recycling facilities.
- Clean up after your pet to prevent animal waste from washing into waterways. For more information, visit https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/Pet%20Care%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf.
- Compost or recycle yard waste and lawn clippings when possible. Depositing lawn clippings in water bodies and storm drains can increase oxygen demand in the water, which can significantly harm fish populations and damage seagrass beds — vital habitat for animals and aquatic organisms.
Conserve Water and Reduce Wastewater Disposal
You may not realize that the water that you use in your home — in your sinks, showers, toilets, laundry, dishwasher and more — may ultimately be disposed into natural waterways.
You can do your part by practicing water conservation. By doing so, you are reducing the volume of wastewater that is sent to natural waterways for disposal. Visit the district’s webpage https://www.sjrwmd.com/water-conservation/ to learn your irrigation days and times, as well tips to save water.
As with high-quality groundwater, reclaimed water supplies are limited. So even when using reclaimed water, it is important to practice conservation measures, such as planting water-efficient landscapes and irrigating appropriately. For more information visit: https://www.sjrwmd.com/water-conservation/ or https://www.cityofflaglerbeach.com/299/Water-Conservation.