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 Getting to Know Your Watershed



 Non point-Source Pollution

Diagram courtesy of University of Wisconsin Extension

Many people think that water pollution is caused by big business or large government facilities - places with pipes leading into the river. These are known as "point source" polluters. However, in recent years these sources have greatly reduced their negative impact on water quality. Run-off is a "nonpoint" source of pollution, meaning the ultimate source of the pollution cannot be identified. 

Water from rain and melting snow moves across our properties, collecting pollutants (nonpoint-source pollution), and finds its way to the nearest storm drain where it is discharged untreated into the bodies of water we use for swimming, fishing and drinking.  Nonpoint-source pollution is widely recognized by environmental scientists and regulators as the single largest threat to water quality in the United States. The major pollutants of concern are pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms), nutrients, toxic contaminants, debris, and sediment.


Urban NPS pollution includes:

  • Street litter, road salt, pet wastes, and other debris

  • Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, yard waste, and other lawn care residues

  • Motor oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, anti-freeze, and other substances that leak from cars onto driveways, roadways, and parking lots.


Agricultural NPS pollution includes:

  • Sediment from exposed soil or overgrazed fields

  • Nutrients and pesticides

  • Pathogens from livestock waste


How You Can Help at Home:

Keep water where it falls!  The most effective way to protect our water quality is to catch and keep water where it falls.  This allows the water to be cleaned as it infiltrates the ground, and helps recharge aquifers.  Help prevent stormwater from running off your property:

  • Install a rain barrel to hold rainwater for later use.

  • Direct your downspouts to a vegetated area or rain garden.

  • Plant a rain garden with deep-rooted native plants in a low area or near a downspout discharge area, where it can hold and infiltrate water.

  • Plant a tree—they not only help keep water on your property longer, their leaves, the sun and wind also help water evaporate.

  • Use porous paving materials.



Control potential pollution! Another great way to protect water quality is to reduce the amount of pollutants that may find their way to our rivers and streams.  Reduce potential pollutants on your property:


  • Clean up after your pet.  Dog feces left unbagged can introduce pathogens and excess nutrients to our local waterways.

  • Use landscaping options, such as native plants and grasses that do not require fertilizers or pesticides.  If you decide to use chemicals, “organic” products, or compost, use the least amount necessary.

  • Repair automobile leaks as soon as possible. Any substances that drip from our cars may later be washed down a storm drain.

  • Sweep driveways or patios instead of hosing off, which will lead debris into the storm drain.

  • This debris will then be carried, unfiltered, into our streams. Dispose of debris in the regular garbage. 

  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash. They use less water and are required to treat the wastewater.  When washing cars at home, wash them on your lawn or other unpaved surface using a biodegradable carwash soap.

  • Clean paint brushes in your sink.  Dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program.

  • Do not dump anything into a storm drain.  Water from storm drains is not treated before being released into our waterways.  Share this information with your friends and neighbors or start a storm drain stenciling program in your neighborhood.

  • Take proper care of your septic system.  Have a professional inspect it at least every 3 years and pump it as necessary, usually every 3 to 5 years.  Protect your drainfield by planting grass only and prohibiting vehicles.

Contact Us

10S404 Knoch Knolls Road

Naperville, IL 60565

Phone: 630-428-4500

Fax: 630-428-4599

E-mail: Jennifer Hammer



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