A tidy home certainly brings a sense of pride and ownership. Does that sense of pride cross over to your neighborhood streets? While debris and litter may be an eye-sore for the neighborhood, it can also be a potential pollution hazard for the environment and the City at large.
It is important to realize that through your daily outdoor activities, you may be allowing toxic chemicals and debris to flow into the storm drain system and eventually into the ocean. This type of pollution threatens public heath, wildlife, tourism and the economy.
Many pollutants — including paint, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, motor oil and litter– are picked up by water from rain, hoses and sprinklers as it flows from the streets into curb inlets known as catch basins. From there, this “toxic soup” runs through a system of pipes and open channels – flowing to the beaches and ocean untreated.
Every dry (i.e. no rain) summer day, approximately 100 million gallons of urban runoff flows through the storm drain system directly to the creeks, rivers and ocean. To give you a sense of 100 million gallons, imagine filling up the entire Rose Bowl stadium to the top with water. When it rains, the amount can increase to 10 billion gallons flowing through the storm drain system.
Plastic, one of the most common items found in the ocean, does not biodegrade; it photodegrades, meaning it is broken down by sunlight into tiny molecules that never become digestible to the animals that try to eat it.
These plastics, which are polluting vast portions of our oceans, end up killing hundreds of thousands of birds and fish every year. An individual plastic bottle takes at least 450 years to break down. In fact, the Algalita Foundation, which monitors plastics in our oceans, says that plastic particles outnumber plankton 6 to 1! That is literally trillions of pieces of plastic floating around our oceans.
There is an upside. Stormwater pollution is completely preventable and people like you make the difference! Here’s what you can do:
* Always throw trash in a trash can;
* Recycle as much as you can;
* Always pick up after your dog;
* Spot apply areas of your lawn with toxic chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers instead of blanketing the entire area. Never apply before a predicted rain storm.
The goal is to prevent pollution before it ever makes its way to our rivers and oceans. So let’s work to stop the problem before it starts. Everyone needs to pitch in to help prevent pollution. It’s not hard to do, just make sure you always put your trash in its proper place and remind others to do their part to keep our rivers and beaches clean.
For more information call (800)974-9794 or visit LAstormwater.org.