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Susquehanna Life

Everything You Do On Land Affects Water

Dec 09, 2016 08:21PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

By Keith Williams

Everything you do on land affects water. Here are 5 specific things you can do to protect water quality:

1. Avoid fertilizing the lawn. We all want green lawns, but dot green streams. Excess fertilizers runs off land into streams, which causes excess algae to bloom and unhealthy conditions. Don’t spread fertilizer haphazardly. It’s not something that does better the more of it you apply. Test your soil before investing in expensive fertilizer to see if and what nutrients your grass actually needs. Not only will this reduce nutrient pollution, it will save you money. Also, avoid using herbicides. They kill more than just plants and are especially harmful to aquatic systems. If you must spray, avoid getting herbicides in or very near water, and remember the dry ditch in front of your house is directly connected to a stream. Either get happy with taller grass here or use a trimmer to control the growth rather than a chemical. If you live on or near a waterway of any size, consider planting trees and/or reducing your mowing to increase the filtering and shading that greenery performs. Cooler, cleaner water benefits us all. Every little bit helps.

2. Don’t dump pharmaceuticals down the drain. Turn them in on collection days. One of the actors identified as causing problems in Susquehanna small mouth bass are pharmaceuticals. Don’t contribute to the decline of the Susquehanna by dumping prescriptions down the drain. Turn them in during prescription collection days, and many pharmacies accept old prescriptions regularly. Go to to find environmentally friendly disposal options near you.

3. Install rain barrels, or even better, rain gardens. Water that runs off roof tops and driveways is hot and contains contaminants that fall from the sky and drip from our cars. Rain barrels help to slow that initial toxic hot flush from reaching our streams. Even better are rain gardens because the bacteria that set up shop in the soil of the rain garden actually help clean up the toxics. Check out for more info.

4. Drive less when you can. Cars emit carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. CO2 is fueling climate change, which is impacting streams by raising temperatures and reducing flows. Nitrogen from tail pipes comes back to earth to over fertilize streams and cause unhealthy conditions. Diving less helps solve both problems. Consider combining errands instead of making multiple trips

5. Pick up after Fido. Animal waste, include dog doo, is fertilizer, and they contribute many of the excess nutrients that are many of our rivers and streams. Pick up after your dog and consider composting the waste. This will reduce the nutrient load flowing to our streams after rains and it’s just the neighborly thing to do anyway.

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