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. As a result, stormwater runoff is now one of the leading causes of surface water pollution in the DuPage River watershed, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Non-point Source Pollution
In comparison to big facilities with identifiable pipes - "point-source" polluters, runoff is a "non-point" source of pollution. That is, the ultimate source of the pollution cannot be identified. These pollutants are used on lawns, left on driveways and roads, and allowed to go down curbside gutters into storm drains. Polluntants that come from "non-point" sources include:
- 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, roads and parking lots
- Street litter, pet wastes and other debris
Allowing these materials to go into a storm drain is the same as going up to a stream bank and dumping them in. This is because there is usually no treatment facility between storm drains and the river.
How You Can Help
Clean up after your pet. Dog feces left un bagged can introduce pathogens and excess nutrients in to our local waterways.
Explore landscaping options that require little or no fertilizers and pesticides, such as planting native plants.
Repair automobile leaks. Any substance that drips from our cars may later be washed down our driveway and into the storm drain.
Wash your car on the lawn or other unpaved surface, or better yet, use a commercial car wash. These facilities use less water and dispose of the suds in a safe manner.
Properly dispose of excess paints and other household hazardous waste.
Direct downspouts into a vegetated area or rain garden.
Use paving materials that are porous.
Install a rain barrel to hold rain water for later use.
Plant a rain garden with deep-rooted native plants.