The Scoop on Poop
We all do it. Dogs, cows, humans – we all produce poop.
And while it is a natural process, if that waste gets into our water, the affects can be detrimental. Several streams in the Etowah Watershed are listed on the Georgia List of Impaired Streams because they have too much fecal coliform bacteria, which comes from animal and human fecal waste. Fecal matter in the waterways can make humans sick.
How does it get into the water? Mostly from leaking septic systems or stormwater overflows, and animal farming areas. When septic systems fail or sewage lines break, the stuff they were designed to catch leaks out, either soaking into the ground water or bubbling up in a lawn and overflowing to a nearby stream and/or stormwater system.
Another way, fecal bacteria gets in the water is through improper handling of cow manure and chicken litter. When the chickens leave the chicken house, all their waste is removed before the next tenants move in. Some farmers sell this litter to be used as fertilizer and others store it on site. If not stored in a covered area, or if overly applied to fields, chicken litter can be washed into streams or rivers when it rains, adding to the fecal coliform problem.
Cow manure finds its way into water either directly or indirectly. Cows that have access to streams sometimes use them as toilets as well as drinking water. In addition, muddy, churned up pastures, also called heavy use areas, become sources of contamination when the mud runs into waterways.
So, what to do?
Many counties also have grant money available to help. Check with the Cooperative Extension Office or county agriculture agent in your county to see it they have money available to help defray the costs.
So, what can everyday citizens do? Following are some suggestions how you can reduce the amount of fecal waste getting into our beautiful waterways:
- Clean up pet waste in your yard.
- Have your septic tank pumped out every 3-5 years and fix leaks immediately.
- Report any sewage leaks immediately.
Together, we can all reduce pollution!
Green Grass – Clean Water
Spring time is here! The sounds of the season are all around – birds twittering, crickets chirping and …. lawn mowers roaring.
Did you know that you can protect water quality while caring for your lawn? Residential lawns can be a significant source of nonpoint source pollution if cared for incorrectly. Excess pesticides or fertilizers can run off into nearby streams.
Here are some tips to care for your lawn naturally and protect our precious water.
- Substitute natural compost for prepared fertilizers. A soil test can tell you exactly which nutrients your lawn lacks.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn to provide nitrogen.
- If you do choose to apply a fertilizer, read the directions carefully and apply the recommended amount.
- Minimize pesticide use by planting native plants that are more resistant to area bugs. In addition, native plants are often more drought resistant and need less fertilizers.
- When applying pesticides, make sure you only apply the least amount needed, and not before a heavy rain, when it will run off.
- Set your mower blade 2-3 inches high. Longer blades of grass help control weeds and conserve water naturally.
- Keep mower blades sharp so they don’t tear the grass and make it vulnerable to disease.
- Water in the early morning hours to prevent water loss from evaporation.
- Water slowly, allowing water to be properly absorbed. For the most efficient watering, use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system.
- Watering once a week for several hours is the best method for a healthy lawn.
Remember Clean Water Matters to Us All!
Conserving water actually helps with pollution issues. Water is not created; it is recycled. If each household in the Upper Etowah watershed reduces their water consumption by just a little bit, then less water will be taken from the rivers, streams and lakes. Adequate water flow protects habitat and ensures all of us will have enough water to use.
So, how can you reduce the water used in your house?
- Try to limited showers to 5 minutes.
- Teach your children to turn off the spigot while brushing their teeth (or, listen to your children when they try to teach you!).
- Consider installing a rainbarrel under your downspouts. This collects the water running off of your roof. Then you can use it water your lawn or garden. Some rainbarrels come with drip irrigation systems that can be buried under a landscaped area.
- Sweep your driveway off rather than using a hose to wash off debris.
- Frequently check your plumbing system and any outdoor irrigation system for leaks. A leaking toilet wastes lots of water and money!
- Run dishwashers and washing machines only when fully loaded.
We all need water. Water conservation and pollution reduction are all of our responsibilities!
For more tips or other information about water conservation, visit www.watersmart.net.