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How you can help keep water clean!

Reduce Pollution to Lakes & Rivers

Storm water runoff is rainwater that does not infiltrate into the ground, but instead runs off impervious areas (streets, sidewalks, parking lots) and into lakes, rivers and wetlands. It is the leading causes of water pollution in the United States, carrying grease, oil, bacteria, nutrients, sediment and other contaminants straight into our waters.

Below are ways you can reduce storm water, and/or the pollutants it might come in contact with. Visit www.cleanwatermn.org for even more ideas!!


1. Mulch or Compost Leaves and Grass Clippings!
Grass clipping and leaves located on impervious surfaces such as streets, driveways, and sidewalks, wash away with storm water runoff into nearby lakes, rivers and wetlands via stormdrains. They add excess nutrients to the water which results in algae blooms! Community Clean ups for Water Quality help clean streets of grass clippings and leaves and reduce nutrients in lakes.
Compost grass clippings and leaves, thus keeping nutrients out of waters AND reduce the need for lawn fertilizers.  

Stormdrain leaves  
2. Keep Storm Drains Clean!
Storm drains drain to waters without treatment! In addition to keeping them free of leaves and grass clippings, we must also prevent debris, trash and hazardous chemicals (paint, herbicides) from getting into them and washing into lakes and rivers.
3. Let Grass to Grow to or Above 3"
Longer grass stays green longer and reduces the need for watering. Longer grass blades above mean longer roots that will increase stormwater runoff infiltration into the ground. So take a break this summer, mow less, and enjoy a greener lawn!
4. Use Phosphorus FREE fertilizers
If you must use fertilizers on your lawn and garden use phosphorus free. Lawn fertilizers carrying phosphorus have been banned in MN, but garden fertilizers still contain it. Phosphorus washes into streams and lakes with stormwater runoff and causes algae blooms.  Sweep excess fertilizers away from sidewalks, driveways, streets, and storm drains when finished using and remember the best methods for green lawns are to use mulch and compost and reduce mowing frequency!
Go Phosphorus Free! 

Algae bloom CW Algae


5. Build a Raingarden
Raingardens reduce stormwater runoff and associated pollutants and help prevent flooding. A raingarden is a shallow depression garden designed to catch and infiltrate storm water runoff. The plants absorb and breakdown nutrients and pollutants and attract many types of wildlife (birds and butterflies) to your yard increasing the beauty and aesthetics of your yard. Interested in building a rain garden? Learn more at  www.bluethumb.org  




 6. Get a Rain barrel
Another method for reducing stormwater runoff is to get a rain barrels. Rain barrels catch runoff from your roof, which can later by used to water gardens. Using rainwater helps conserve water and is better for you plants as it does not contain chlorides.  Interested in getting a rain barrel! The Carver County Environmental Center sells them every spring at the best price in the metro area! Check out this Rain Barrel Guide, whether they are right for your yard, and what you'd need to build your own.




 7. Redirect Your Gutter
If you don't wish to get a rain barrel, you can still redirect your gutters so the water flows onto grass and gardens instead of hard surfaces that go to storm drains.



 8. Remove Pet Waste
Although loveable and fuzzy, pets produce waste that can get washed off our lawns and parks and into our waters, and waste carries bacteria. Picking up pet waste is a huge and simple step towards cleaner and healthier waters. You can even get compostable biobags for picking up pet waste with Biobags! These bags breakdown and can buy buried, compost them in your yard away from potential rain and it can act as a fertilizer for your lawn.

Dog waste



 10. Fix Car Leaks!
Those drips from motor oil, break fluid, anti-freeze and other liquids from cars, get washed into our waters so fix them quickly to prevent pollution.




 11. Improve that Septic Systems
While properly managed septic systems recycle water back into the natural environment, failing systems result in sewage back ups, sewage in the house or surfacing in the yard or ditch. These failing systems are public and wildlife health threats.  For more information on septic systems and programs offered by Carver County, visit the Environmental Services Septic Systems page.



 12. Don't Dump Hazardous Materials
As said before, drains lead to water bodies. Although the drain from your sinks and bathrooms go to water treatment facilities before entering lakes and rivers, these treatment facilities do not have a capabilities of removing every contaminant from the water. Thus, READ LABELS on your household products to see if they are harmful and how to properly dispose of them. The Environmental Center in Carver County takes many hazardous household materials. Dumping down the drain or on soil leaks these chemicals to surface and groundwater.

household cleaners



 13. Keep or Restore Buffers and Natural Shorelines!
If own shoreline property, you can greatly improve the water quality simply by leaving a buffer strip of native vegetation near the water. The vegetation acts as a filter, capturing and containing pollutants that otherwise would have ended up in the water. It also serves as habitat for wildlife such as migrating birds.
Many people mow these natural shorelines down, but that leads to water pollution and erosion and loss of property.




Here are a number of things you can do to help conserve water on a daily basis! Water shortages are going to become increasingly common as freshwater supplies continue to be used faster than they can be recharged. Thus water conservation awareness and habits are important to start now.


  • Turn off water faucets that are not being used (brushing teeth).
  • Fix your leaky faucets! Making these changes can save much more water than you think. To get an idea of how much water a leaky faucet wastes visit the drip accumulator from United States Geological Survey.  Water you lawn only 2-3 days a week at most.
  • Water gardens and lawns early in the morning when temperatures and winds are at their lowest levels to reduce evaporation. If you step on you lawn and grass springs back, it does not need to be watered.
  • Turn off your sprinklers when it rains. Rain sensors and shutoff switches are inexpensive and can be retrofitted to almost any system.
  • Keep your sprinklers back far enough from roads and sidewalks to impervious surfaces are not being watered.
  • Resent your irrigation timers four times a year as the seasons change. Most homeowners over water each fall by 25% or more because they don't readjust at the end of September when solar radiation is already halfway to winter lows.
  • Use a trigger nozzle on hoses so water won't run except when you intend it to.
  • Use a broom to clean driveways and other hardscapes.
  • Remove dying plants and weeds that compete for available water.
  • Maintain sharp blades on pruning shears and lawn mowers to reduce plant water loss.
  • Aerate lawns and apply compost periodically to decrease compaction and improve penetration of water, air, and nutrients into roots zones. Lawns need aeration when water pools or runs off after only a few minutes of water.
  • Avoid installing water features, even recycled water evaporates.

Additional Water Conservation Links

List of Water Conservation Tips - by the MN Metropolitan  Council

My Water Pledge - Get your city to Pledge to Conserve Water! This website has valuable information and brochures about conservation.

Water Sense with the Env. Protection Website. Calculate your water savings when you install water conserving shower heads, faucets, toilets, etc. Check out the Water Sense for Kids website for simple ways to conserve water.  

Household Water Audit Worksheet- Find out how much water you use! By the Maryland Dept. of Environment.