The Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program
In 1987, the Florida Legislature recognized that many of Florida’s surface waters were polluted, threatened by pollution, or otherwise degraded. In response, the Legislature enacted the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Act to address water quality; to restore degraded lakes, rivers, streams, and estuaries; and to preserve the more pristine waterbodies.
SWIM Priority Watersheds
In the northwest Florida, the SWIM program is implemented by the Northwest Florida Water Management District, which works cooperatively with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), other state agencies, local governments, and private initiatives to accomplish watershed protection and restoration objectives.
The District adopted its initial SWIM priority list in 1988. Since then, there have been several revisions (1993 and 1996) culminating in the current listing of seven priority riverine-estuarine watersheds.
SWIM Priority Watersheds of Northwest Florida
NWFWMD SWIM Priorities and Plans
- Apalachicola River and Bay Watershed (including Lake Seminole, the Chipola River, and the New River)
Apalachicola River and Bay System SWIM Plan
- Pensacola Bay Watershed (including Escambia, Blackwater, Yellow, Shoal and East Bay rivers, Escambia Bay, East Bay, Blackwater Bay, western and central Santa Rosa Sound, and Big Lagoon)
Pensacola Bay System SWIM Plan
- Choctawhatchee River and Bay Watershed (including Homes Creek, eastern Santa Rosa Sound, and coastal dune lakes)
Choctawhatchee River and Bay Watershed SWIM Plan
- St. Andrew Bay Watershed (including North Bay, West Bay, East Bay, Deer Point Lake Reservoir, St. Joseph Bay, Econfina Creek, and Lake Powell)
St. Andrew Bay Watershed SWIM Plan
- St. Marks River and Apalachee Bay Watershed (including Wakulla River & Wakulla Springs, Lake Miccosukee, Lake Lafayette, and Lake Munson)
St. Marks River Watershed SWIM Plan
- Ochlockonee River and Bay Watershed (including Lake Jackson and Lake Iamonia)
Lake Jackson Management Plan
Lake Jackson Management Plan Addendum
Ochlockonee River and Bay Watershed SWIM Plan (Draft)
- Perdido River and Bay Watershed
Perdido River and Bay Watershed SWIM Plan (Draft)
The watershed priorities listed above are inclusive of all tributary streams and lands within the respective watersheds.
NWFWMD SWIM Priority List (1996)(1.05 MB)
NWFWMD SWIM Priority List Update – Provided in the March 1st Consolidated Annual Report
The SWIM program emphasizes a watershed approach and manages surface
water as an integral component of entire natural systems. This perspective
recognizes that individual parts of a system are interconnected and must
be viewed as a whole to preserve the system. Each watershed is unique
and has different management needs.
Four broad goals have been identified for the program: water quality
protection, natural systems protection, cooperative activities and watershed
management. The SWIM program has focused primarily on water quality and
water resources preservation and protection issues.
The SWIM program recognizes the importance of high quality water resources
in our daily lives. The many critical functions and values associated
with these resources include water supply, extensive wetland and aquatic
habitats, abundant fisheries and numerous recreational opportunities.
Clean water systems are a fundamental part of the states natural
and economic base. They must be protected.
Learn how you can protect our precious
water resources. Every little bit helps.
The Northwest Florida Water Management District's SWIM Priority List
of surface water systems with approved plans:
- Apalachicola River and Bay
(including Lake Seminole, Chipola River and St. George Sound)
- Lake Jackson
- Pensacola Bay System
(including Escambia, Blackwater, Yellow and Shoal rivers and western
Santa Rosa Sound)
- St. Marks River
- Choctawhatchee River and Bay
(including eastern Santa Rosa Sound)
- St. Andrew Bay (including
St. Joseph Bay, Sand Hill Lakes and Deer Point Lake)
APALACHICOLA RIVER AND BAY
The Apalachicola drainage basin includes the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee
and Flint rivers and is referred to as the ACF River Basin System. For
over a decade the District has attempted to resolve a dispute over a
proposed reallocation of water to meet Atlantas growth needs. The
District has studied flow regimes and negotiated with Georgia and Alabama
to maintain historic flows to protect the biological health and diversity
of the Apalachicola River and Bay.
The ACF basin, with all its natural resources, is one of the southeastern
United States most diverse, productive and economically important
aquatic systems. It is ranked as highest priority on the Districts
SWIM program. The value of the Apalachicola River and Bay has been recognized
through designations such as Outstanding
Florida Water, Aquatic Preserve (DEP) and National Estuarine Research
Reserve. It is bordered by the Apalachicola National Forest, Torreya State
Park, The Nature Conservancy Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve,
Tates Hell State Forest and Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area.
The riverine ecosystem supports a substantial seafood industry. In addition
to oysters and shrimp, numerous varieties of finfish are also harvested
within the bay. Together, the Apalachicola River and Bay support a unique
and productive estuarine system.
The Apalachicola River and Bay have experienced relatively little pollution
and development when compared with other ecological systems in the southeast.
The dominant economic base depends on harvesting natural resources within
the river basin and bay, so protecting the natural functions of these
resources is critical. The SWIM plan focuses on preserving the areas
existing environmental quality through research, education, restoration
and preservation activities.
The potential impact of point and nonpoint pollution is addressed in
the SWIM plan. Objectives for the Apalachicola River and Bay include:
- Prevent further degradation of the Apalachicola system from point
and nonpoint sources, as well as impacts from growth and increased
use of the system, both recreational and commercial.
- Enhance scientific understanding of the Apalachicola system to better
determine and develop long-term strategies for protecting the river
- Inform residents within the watershed about how their actions impact
the system and enlist their support in preservation efforts.
- Promote cooperation among governmental agencies and private companies
whose policies and practices impact the system.
The District mapped land use in conjunction with an assessment of nonpoint
source pollution (stormwater runoff) from urban, agricultural and silvicultural
areas. Point sources of pollution (domestic and industrial wastewater
treatment facilities that discharge into the Apalachicola River or Bay)
were also assessed. Recommendations for reducing both point and nonpoint
source pollution were made to state agencies and local governments. Efforts
to implement these plans are ongoing.
The District conducted a two-year study, funded by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency, administered through DEP, and determined
that the majority of streams that discharge to the river have good water
quality with some localized problems from nonpoint sources. The District
carried out similar research for the Bay. An urban stormwater assessment
for Franklin County found that certain streams discharging to the bay
at times exceeded one or more state water quality parameters. Monitoring
of bay sites indicated a problem with periodic bacterial contamination.
A study of potential impacts to the bay from septic tanks on St. George
Island was initiated through a cooperative effort between the then Health
and Rehabilitative Services, Apalachicola National Estuarine Research
Reserve (ANERR) and NWFWMD. Further study is planned to determine more
specifically the type and extent of runoff that may affect the quality
of water in the river, bay and immediate tributaries.
The management of shared resources is a major issue for the Apalachicola
River and Bay system. Plans for the interstate management of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint
river system are pending with Georgia and Alabama. How users of the Chattahoochee
and Flint rivers in Georgia and Alabama take care of the upstream waters
will ultimately affect the productivity and quality of the Apalachicola
River and Bay.
In the immediate proximity of Apalachicola Bay, restoration of the wetlands
in Tates Hell Swamp within East Bay Drainage Basin was initiated in 1992.
The swamp had been ditched and drained by silvicultural interests in an
attempt to develop a pine plantation. Since 1992, the state and federal
government has brought over 140,000 acres under public ownership in this
area. The hydrology of approximately 6,000 acres was restored by blocking
ditches and constructing low water crossings in roads to reestablish sheetflow
and old drainage patterns. The water levels were raised on the demonstration
areas by more than two feet. The Division
of Forestry (DOF) is continuing this effort through the management
of the Tates Hell State Forest. The District will continue to assist both
the DOF and the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission with their restoration efforts
on the lands that surround and drain to East Bay. Restoring this area
is critical to protecting East Bay, which is the primary nursery area
of the Apalachicola Bay.
The District SWIM staff also offers
technical assistance to private entities, local governments and other
state agencies for review of proposed developments. Review is focused
on potential impacts to natural resources, including water quality, aquatic
resources and hydrologic functions of an ecosystem or area. Suggestions
for reducing impacts while allowing appropriate use of the land are a
major component of the technical assistance provided. As an example, through
the initiative of the SWIM Program, an alternative design for shoreline
stabilization structures was developed for Franklin County. The design
enhances estuarine habitat while providing property owners a viable option
for protecting their property from erosion.
Lake Jackson is a closed drainage basin in terms of surface water. Water
can flow into the lake, but water leaves only through evaporation or by
seeping into the ground. The lakes bottom has a number of sinkholes
that are connected to the Floridan Aquifer through a network of spaces
in the underground rock. During periods of drought, reduced inflows from
rainfall and runoff lower the lake level, and can allow sinkholes to drain
the water remaining in the lake. Most recently on September 16, 1999,
Porter Hole Sink drained, taking with it fish, turtles, and the majority
of the southern portion of Lake Jackson. Early in 2000 the northern portion
of the lake drained through Lime Sink.
In light of Lake Jacksons recent natural dewatering, Leon
County, Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD),
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) , and Florida
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) seized on an extensive,
$8.4 million restoration project. The project entailed scraping one-to-three
feet of nutrient-rich sediment (organic muck) from the bottom of the lake
to restore its natural sand and clay bottom.
Phase I targeted muck deposits in Meginniss and Fords arms, immediately
downstream of urbanized stormwater discharge, and removed 392,000 cubic
yards of sediment in four months. Phase II removed 1.6 million cubic yards
of muck from 650 acres, including the southern portion adjacent to Phase
I, deposits north and west of Crowder Landing, an area along the north
shore of Church Cove near U.S. 27 and in the north end past the Cattle
Gap. See map for restoration areas.
The Lake Jackson SWIM Plan was developed to preserve the undisturbed
portions of the Lake Jackson watershed, and restore those areas that are
already polluted or under stress.
Priorities of the Lake Jackson SWIM plan include:
- Improve and maintain water quality in Lake Jackson to preserve environment,
fisheries and recreation.
- Preserve the undisturbed portions of the Lake Jackson watershed
by developing a comprehensive management plan for the entire watershed.
- Restore the polluted portions of the lake through constructing and
operating regional stormwater treatment facilities throughout the
- Work with federal, state and local governmental agencies to acquire
and manage environmentally sensitive land in the Lake Jackson watershed.
- Increase public awareness and participation in the management of
the lake and its uplands.
- Develop a plan to remove nutrient-laden sediments during a natural
drawdown of the lake.
The Meginniss Arm Stormwater Treatment Facility, constructed by the District
in 1983 and funded in large part by EPA funds administered by DEP, consists
of a large detention pond, a sand filter and created marshes, all of which
help clean the stormwater flowing into Lake Jackson. The pond treats and
slowly releases the stormwater through the filter into the marshes, which
absorb many of the nutrients in the stormwater before they reach the lake.
Under the SWIM program, the facility has been expanded to increase its
stormwater storage capacity. An additional stormwater facility was constructed
nearby so that more runoff could be treated. Environmentally sensitive
lands that border Lake Jackson were also acquired to further protect the
lake. In 1992 the District purchased 508 acres that now make up part of
the Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park.
PENSACOLA BAY SYSTEM
For many years, the Pensacola Bay System showed few visible signs of
being affected by these activities. However, in the 1960s and 70s,
massive, repeated fish kills occurred in Escambia and Pensacola bays and
their bayous. During this period, there were dramatic decreases in seafood
harvests, and most seagrass beds disappeared. Through regulatory activities
and studies initiated by the EPA
during the 1970s, water quality in this area did improve. However, many
problems persist and are especially evident in urban bayous such as Bayou
Chico and Bayou Texar.
Point source pollution, stemming from direct discharges into the bay,
and nonpoint source pollution, resulting from stormwater runoff, continue
to be major problems in the urban bayous. Plans to manage stormwater are
being implemented to prevent further pollution. Intensive urban development
has contributed to the increased stormwater runoff into Pensacola Bay.
Contaminants also enter the bay area from upstream along the Escambia,
Conecuh, Yellow, Shoal and Blackwater rivers in Florida and Alabama.
The Districts efforts to restore the areas valuable water
resources are continuing through the SWIM program. Goals of the Pensacola
Bay SWIM plan include:
- Minimize undesirable impacts on the riverine and estuarine system
from adjacent uplands.
- Improve water and sediment quality to perpetuate a healthy riverine
and estuarine system.
- Acquire and support environmentally sensitive land to protect the
water quality and habitats of the Pensacola Bay System.
- Initiate steps to guard against predictable future problems.
- Assess the system to determine its needs and adjust management strategies
- Help the public to understand and assist in responding to the needs
of the system, especially pertaining to local controls and activities.
- Achieve greater public awareness and coordinate government management
of the system.
Several studies have been completed under the SWIM program, including
stormwater assessments, biological monitoring, land use and water
quality. In addition, the District is continuing to work with
federal, state and local governmental agencies to develop stormwater treatment
CHOCTAWHATCHEE RIVER AND
Choctawhatchee Bay has a surface area of approximately 129
square miles. The greatest source of fresh water into the bay is the river.
Other tributaries of the bay include Turkey Creek, Rocky Creek, Swift
Creek and Alaqua Creek. East Pass, located immediately west of Destin,
provides the only direct opening to the Gulf of Mexico. The bay also opens
up to Santa Rosa Sound in the west and the Intracoastal Waterway in the
The Choctawhatchee SWIM plan incorporates the efforts of state agencies,
local governments and private initiatives throughout the watershed. It
is intended to facilitate a joint, public-private effort. Planning for
the restoration and protection of the Choctawhatchee system entails identifying
objectives to address major areas of concern.
Goals of the Choctawhatchee SWIM plan include:
- Reduce and minimize pollution from urban stormwater runoff, other
nonpoint sources and point sources.
- Identify water and sediment quality and trends.
- Maintain historic freshwater inflow (ground and surface) to the
- Protect and restore threatened and critical habitats, such as seagrass
beds, tidal marshes, bottomland hardwood forests, coastal dune lakes,
steepheads, bayous, springs and the main stem of the river.
- Support the protection and recovery of rare, threatened and endangered
- Enhance productivity in the system by restoring and creating important
habitats and improving water quality.
- Promote public awareness of the values and needs of the system.
- Facilitate resource management on a watershed basis, promoting coordination
across local jurisdictional and state lines and agency areas of responsibility.
The Choctawhatchee River and Bay System has long been known for its rich,
diverse ecology, economic benefits and numerous recreational opportunities.
Over recent decades, however, many of the areas water resources
have been impacted by population growth, development and wastewater disposal.
Increased coastal development, in particular, has contributed to displaced
habitats, loss of wetlands and greater amounts of stormwater runoff entering
the river, bay and their tributaries. Stormwater carries contaminants
such as dirt, heavy metals, bacteria, nutrients from fertilizer and other
sources, and various chemicals.
Water quality degradation and other adverse effects have been observed
in areas such as Cinco, Garnier, Joes and Boggy bayous and Old Pass Lagoon.
Development near the shoreline also threatens more pristine bayous such
as Indian, Jones and Hogtown. Particularly vulnerable are fish and wildlife,
seagrass beds, coastal dune lakes and tidal marshes.
Point sources of pollution in the river and bay basin are also of concern,
especially wastewater treatment plants along Holmes Creek.
Much of the Choctawhatchee River floodplain is protected as public land.
More than 51,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land along the river
and Holmes Creek have been acquired by the District to preserve the basin
and its ecosystems. Substantial conservation lands have also been acquired
by the state in Walton, Bay, Okaloosa and Washington counties.
ST. MARKS RIVER SYSTEM
The St. Marks River System includes the St. Marks River, its
major tributary the Wakulla River, Apalachee Bay, several lakes and numerous
sinkholes and underground springs. To recognize the value of the system,
the Wakulla River and a major portion of the St. Marks River have been
designated by the state as Outstanding
Florida Waters. The classification prohibits further water quality
The best water quality in the St. Marks watershed is typically in the
upper Wakulla and St. Marks rivers. The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
guards the Apalachee Bay with vast upland and wetland buffers. It was
established in 1931 to provide wintering grounds for migratory birds and
habitat for waterfowl. It covers more than 107,000 acres of land and bay,
stretching from the Aucilla River watershed in the east to Sopchoppy River
watershed in the west.
The St. Marks River basin is known for its unique geological features
and distinctive landforms that make up the Woodville Karst Plain. Due
to the presence of limestone at or near the land surface, rainfall readily
moves into and recharges the Floridan Aquifer, the regions underground
drinking water supply. Over time, this water has dissolved the carbonates
of the aquifer and has resulted in many karst landforms. The karst plain
is characterized by an abundance of springs, sinks, sinking streams and
swallets, which swallow streams. The St. Marks River flows underground
a short distance and re-emerges, forming a natural bridge. Wakulla Springs
is the jewel of the Woodville Karst Plain, expelling an average 2,900
gallons of fresh water every second from a vent 140 feet deep.
Preserving the excellent water quality that exists throughout most of
the watershed continues to be a high priority and a goal of the St. Marks
SWIM plan. Both rivers and their ecosystems support a wide variety of
wildlife, including many rare and threatened species. The area also offers
many recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, hiking and wildlife
Objectives of the St. Marks SWIM plan include:
- Implement and update as necessary a comprehensive plan for the watershed,
and develop the research necessary to guide a management program.
- Increase information available about the natural resources of the
St. Marks and Wakulla rivers and Apalachee Bay.
- Identify and quantify both point and nonpoint sources of pollution
in the watershed and develop management strategies that will protect
and preserve water quality.
- Document water and sediment quality and relate change in water quality
to specific activities, such as land use, shoreline alteration and
- Determine ground water and surface water interactions and identify
possible sources of water quality problems.
- Improve public awareness about the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers
and Apalachee Bay ecosystem through an aggressive public education
campaign about basin habitats and natural resources, on-site disposal
systems, responsible recreational behavior, and responsible land and
The strong link between ground water and surface water in the basin contributes
to the environmental sensitivity of the area. Because the limestone lies
at or near the surface, surface water moves quickly into the aquifer.
In many cases, this results in less filtration, absorption and biological
removal of contaminants in the water.
Other potential adverse impacts stem from stormwater runoff from
nearby urban areas, loss of habitats from shoreline development, and effluent
from improperly maintained septic tanks.
Current activities include research into the movement and fate
of an increased level of nitrates in ground water of the Woodville Karst
Plain, which may be causing explosive hydrilla and spirogyra growth in
Wakulla Springs. The study, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey
and the City of Tallahassee, as well as Leon and Wakulla Counties, is
funded by an EPA grant, administered by the Florida DEP.
Also, the District is monitoring the biology and chemistry in
rivers of the St. Marks Watershed. This ongoing project is designed to
assess both seasonal and random variation at several locations in the
St. Marks and Wakulla rivers in an effort to prevent natural water quality
fluctuations from being interpreted as anthropogenic effects. The project
will establish ambient water quality, identify areas of degraded water
quality, identify point and nonpoint source pollution and improve our
understanding of aquatic biota and the natural and human-caused stresses
ST. ANDREW BAY
AREA MAP - St. Andrew Bay
St. Andrew, North, West and East bays have a combined surface area of
approximately 59,568 acres. Econfina Creek, through Deer Point Lake, provides
the major freshwater inflow into the estuary, along with a number of smaller
creeks. Two major passes, East Pass and West Pass, have provided surface
water connections with the Gulf of Mexico. West Pass was artificially
cut in 1934 as the primary navigation channel to the Gulf, while most
exchange between the estuary and the Gulf had historically occurred through
East Pass. East Pass was recently filled in, however, by the movement
of shoreline sediments. Dredging and reopening the pass is being explored.
The Deer Point Lake reservoir has a surface area of approximately 4,572
acres and a watershed covering approximately 282,880 acres. The lake is
located about eight miles north of Panama City, and was created through
construction of a dam across the northern portion of North Bay in 1961.
The reservoir impounds flow from Econfina, Bear and Cedar creeks and Bayou
George and discharges into North Bay. Econfina Creek is the primary tributary
to Deer Point Lake, contributing between 57 and 79 percent of the water
entering the lake. The reservoir now serves as the primary source of drinking
water for most of the municipalities in Bay County.
AREA MAP - Deer Point Lake
Through the SWIM program, the District completed an assessment of the
entire watershed, including water quality, land use, vegetation, sensitive
areas and agricultural and silvicultural practices. The summary report
identified many preventive measures to ensure the ecological integrity
of this water resource. The reservoir watershed provides a valuable habitat
for fish, plants and wildlife, and is important for osprey nesting.
The District implemented key recommendations by acquiring environmentally
sensitive land. Acreage along Econfina and Sand Hill Lakes will continue
to be managed by the District in cooperation with the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Washington County.
Further activities for Deer Point Lake will be accomplished as part of
the St. Andrew Bay watershed SWIM program.
St. Joseph Bay is located on the southwest coast of Gulf County, bounded
by Cape San Blas and St. Joseph peninsula. This bay is notable in that
it is the only embayment in the eastern Gulf of Mexico not substantially
influenced by freshwater inflow. It is connected to the Intracoastal Waterway,
however, by the Gulf County Canal. The bay has a surface area of approximately
42,826 acres. In recognition of its outstanding resource value, St. Joseph
Bay was designated an Aquatic Preserve for the primary purpose of preserving
the biological resources in the bay and maintaining them in an essentially
The St. Andrew Bay watershed has experienced many of the impacts that
are common to Florida water bodies. These include urban stormwater runoff
and other nonpoint sources of pollution, domestic and industrial point
source pollution and habitat loss and degradation. Some portions of the
watershed have thus far been spared the level of resource degradation
that tends to come with intensive development. Effective watershed management
and planning at this stage can help preserve the natural resources within
the watershed, coordinate existing restoration needs and prevent the need
for expensive and difficult solutions in the future.
The St. Andrew Bay Watershed
SWIM Plan takes a basin perspective to address priority issues.
A number of the issues, programs and projects incorporated within the
plan were identified by the St. Andrew Bay Environmental Study Team (BEST) and incorporated in the BEST management plan for the St. Andrew Bay
ecosystem. The priority issues are identified as growth management, nonpoint
source pollution, point source pollution, chemical contamination, biodiversity,
public outreach and management of the Deer Point basin. The SWIM plan
addresses these issues through several programs: watershed planning and
coordination, stormwater retrofit and treatment, public outreach and education,
biodiversity and natural systems, chemical contaminants, cumulative assessment
and Deer Point Reservoir watershed management. Each of these programs
has a set of goals, issues, and objectives to guide implementation.
The goals of the St. Andrew Bay Watershed SWIM Plan include:
- Provide comprehensive, coordinated management of the watershed to
preserve and protect resources and functions.
- Provide for effective treatment and management of urban stormwater
- Promote sustainable resources of the St. Andrew Bay watershed through
public education and outreach.
- Protect and restore the natural ecological diversity, productivity
and ecological functions of the watershed.
- Identify extent of chemical contamination; initiate restoration
- Identify environmental quality and trends within the watershed.
- Protect the quality and quantity of water, as well as habitat quality,
in the Deer Point Reservoir basin.
WHAT WE CAN DO TO PROTECT OUR
Protecting Floridas water resources is everyones responsibility.
It is best not to wait until a problem develops to take action that will
improve surface water quality and spare us costly clean-up. The following
practices will help protect our water resources so that we will have:
...safe drinking water sources in the future.
...rivers and wetlands that can support wildlife in their natural
...clean surface waters with healthy fish and other valuable aquatic
...shorelines and beaches that are safe for swimming and other recreational
Use proper receptacles for trash disposal. Do not throw trash directly
into lakes, rivers, bays or onto surrounding land. Stormwater runoff often
picks up cans, bottles and plastic containers and carries them to surface
waters. Many animals die each year after becoming entangled in plastic
trash and fishing line, or after eating things that can be mistaken for
Reuse or recycle newspapers and glass, plastic and aluminum containers.
This will reduce the amount of trash that is permanently placed in landfills.
Also, use products made from recycled materials when possible.
Properly maintain automobiles and motor boats to control gas, oil and
engine coolant leaks. Stormwater washes these chemicals from roadways
into surface waters. Boats can leak these contaminants directly into the
Observe proper speeds when boating near the shoreline. Five
miles per hour or less will help minimize shoreline erosion that results
from higher speeds.
Keep driveways, curbs and parking lots clean by removing debris, sand
and spilled fuel or oil. If you merely hose down these areas, these contaminants
will be carried into surface or ground waters. Should a fuel spill occur,
use water-free cleaning materials such as sawdust or cat litter to remove
the spill. Then dispose of the cleaning materials properly.
Used motor oil and old car batteries must be taken to local recycling
or hazardous waste centers. If there are none in your area, local garages
or gas stations may be willing to dispose of these items for you. Never
dump used motor oil on the ground or into your sewer system. One quart
of oil can contaminate two million gallons of drinking water.
Do not wash your car in a driveway. Use an unpaved area instead so that
detergents will filter through the soil instead of being carried into
Use only biodegradable and phosphate-free detergents and cleaning products.
Read package labels to see if detergents and cleaning products are biodegradable
and free of phosphates. Phosphates frequently cause algae and plant growth
in surface waters.
Restrict the use of other potentially harmful products. Household products
with high toxicity and some dyes used in paper products can pollute our
water. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions for use.
Use pesticides and herbicides as little as possible. Use natural controls
wherever possible; many commercial pest control products and herbicides
will kill fish and aquatic plants if they wash into surface waters. If
you do use pesticides, use them with caution, follow label directions
and dispose of them properly.
Use as little fertilizer as possible or use natural, organic or slow-release
fertilizers on lawns, flowers and shrubs. Do not over fertilize and only
apply when necessary. If your property borders water, do not fertilize
to the waters edge. It is best to leave approximately 50 feet between
the fertilized area and the waters edge. Excess fertilizer can flow
into surface water, where it promotes algae blooms and other plant growth.
Leave shoreline vegetation in place instead of constructing a sandy beach
or maintaining a lawn to the waters edge. If you already have a
sandy beach, try replanting a variety of native plants or allowing marsh
grasses to grow back naturally. Shoreline vegetation provides a natural
filter for stormwater entering the surface water. A few trees and native
aquatic plants placed at the corners of lots can help keep surface waters
Herbicides and pesticides should never be used along the waters
edge. They may wash directly into the water, potentially harming
plants and animals.
Keep lawn debris and other refuse out of surface waters and drainage
ditches. Oxygen is required to decompose organic matter, such as leaves
and grass clippings. An excessive amount of lawn debris in the water may
reduce oxygen levels needed by fish.
When landscaping, use techniques that can reduce erosion. Use terraces,
swale and berm systems, landscaping timbers or native ground covers (xeriscaping)
to help slow stormwater so it can seep into the ground and not directly
enter surface waters.
Xeriscaping also reduces the need to water and fertilize, thus reducing
runoff and contaminants.
Use mulch and compost material to help retain water and reduce the amount
Hook up to a central sewer system with advanced wastewater treatment,
if possible. If not, properly maintain septic tanks. Locate them
at higher elevations away from the waters edge to keep raw sewage
from entering the lake.
Pet wastes contain high levels of nutrients, bacteria and viruses, which
can harm aquatic animals and pose a health hazard for people. So
house your pets away from the water and prevent their wastes from entering
waterways. Avoid bathing your pets in lakes or streams, since detergents
pose a threat to aquatic life.
Support efforts to provide adequate on-site or regional treatment of
stormwater, as well as restoration activities for already degraded waters.
IF YOU OWN A BUSINESS
Install ponds, swales and percolation basins to detain or retain stormwater
for water quality treatment before it is released into surface waters.
Maintain sewage lines and waste disposal systems. Regular maintenance
will promote efficient operation, and treatment and will help prevent
leaks and overflows.
Dispose of refuse and hazardous wastes properly. Make sure trash cannot
be carried away in the next rainstorm.
Clean parking lots and sidewalks of debris using methods that will not
contribute to the pollution of surface waters. Sweep up trash and throw
it away through refuse collection. Hosing down a parking lot simply washes
the trash into nearby ditches and storm drains. Clean oil spots on pavement
by sprinkling cat litter or sawdust on them and allowing the material
to soak up the oil. Then sweep the material up and dispose of it in a
trash collection bin.
Minimize new impervious surface areas, such as parking lots. These surfaces
can diminish ground water recharge and increase the amount of stormwater
runoff, erosion and other pollutants.
Observe the practices suggested for property owners in the previous section.