What you can do to reduce water pollution - Part 2
This is Part 2 of a two-part series about what you can do to reduce negative impacts to local waterways
Dumping in unauthorized locations is a crime. Illegal dump sites are not only unsightly, they are a public health hazard and also have great economic impact. Studies have shown that illegal dumpers are much more likely to dump on property where a dumpsite already exists, causing cities to spend millions of dollars cleaning up illegal dumpsites annually to prevent more illegal dumping. Also, illegal dumpers are potentially hurting honest businesses by dumping illegally, since they are not paying proper waste disposal fees.
Illegal dump sites can lead to a number of health and safety concerns for both local citizens and the environment because they can contain broken glass, hazardous waste, exposed metals, and other dangerous materials that can harm children playing, adults working nearby, or runoff into a nearby stream polluting available water supply. Dump sites also attract rodents, snakes, mosquitoes, and other pests, making sites even more dangerous to citizens.
It is up to you to help stop illegal dumping and fight environmental crime! We encourage you to work together with your local elected officials and law enforcement agencies towards a cleaner, healthier, and safer community.
To report illegal dumping call the Cocoa Code Enforcement Division at 321-433-8508 or Public Works at 321-433-8770, or submit an illegal dumping concern through our website portal.
Minimize harm from stormwater runoff
You may not have waterfront property, but the rain that runs off your roof, lawn and driveway can eventually end up in the nearest water body by flowing over land and into storm drains. A common misconception is that storm drains lead to a treatment plant when, in reality, most are direct conduits to a stormwater pond or natural waterway.
Storm water is a veritable “chemical soup” of waste and pollutants such as motor oil, gasoline, trash, dirt and fertilizers. About 90 percent of the water quality impact from stormwater runoff comes from the first inch of rainfall. Stormwater ponds provide temporary storage of stormwater runoff and capture a variety of pollutants that would otherwise work their ways downhill to waterways and wetlands.
Tips to lessen harmful impacts from stormwater runoff include the following:
- Maintain your stormwater system. Some maintenance efforts should include clearing or cleaning inflow/outflow structures, removing nuisance and excess vegetation, repairing eroded slopes, and cleaning up trash and yard waste in your yard and gutters and around storm drains.
- Plant appropriate shoreline vegetation to reduce erosion, absorb nutrients and lower the pond’s water table.
- Avoid the unwise or excessive use of pesticides and herbicides, which can harm people, pets, beneficial organisms and the environment. Use nontoxic alternatives whenever possible, and pull weeds by hand. Also, avoid overuse of fertilizers, which can wash into ponds and water bodies and cause harmful algal blooms.
- Don’t blow yard waste and grass clippings into streets or storm drains.
- Repair automobile leaks.
- Don’t dump oils, chemicals or paint in your yard or down storm drains.
- Dispose of antifreeze, motor oil and batteries at designated collection centers.
- Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste.
Maintain septic systems
A properly located, designed, constructed and maintained septic tank system can serve a home as efficiently as a central sewer system, but a system that does not receive proper care and attention can be a financial burden and a potential health threat, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Division of Environmental Health and Bureau of Onsite Sewage Programs.
After the septic tank system is placed in service, proper operation and maintenance of the system will ensure continued efficient service and prevent sudden replacement expenses.
To ensure your system is functioning properly, follow guidelines from the Florida Department of Health, including:
- Know the location and capacity of your septic tank system.
- Have a licensed contractor inspect the tank every three to five years.
- Have the tank pumped when the combined depth of the sludge and scum equals one-third of the tank liquid volume.
- Install the system so that rainfall and surface water will flow away from the drainfield and at an appropriate distance from nearby waterways.
- Grow grass above the system.
- Install water conservation fixtures or devices to reduce the total volume of water entering the system, and repair leaking fixtures.
- Keep plumbing fixtures such as toilets and faucets in good repair to prevent leakage and wasting of water.
- Never flush paper towels, newspapers, wrapping paper, rags or sticks into the system.
- Do not overuse ordinary household cleaning chemicals that will be flushed into the system.
- Do not pour out or empty hobby or home industry chemicals into the system.
- Avoid allowing grease or other bulky waste to enter the system.
- Do not flush toxic materials such as pesticides into the system.
- Keep trees and shrubbery away from the drainfield.
- Do not drive vehicles across or park on the drainfield to protect it from being crushed.
- Do not use chemical solvents to clean plumbing lines or a septic tank system.