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Take an active role in improving water quality

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Stream Smart is a collaborative education project developed to raise awareness about water quality. Click on the green link to visit their website and learn how you can become stream smart!

It all flows to the stream

On its journey from the sky to the storm drain, a raindrop can collect many different types of contaminants. This could include particles of oil from the driveway, fertilizers, pet waste and even nicotine from a cigarette in the gutter. Although singularly they may seem small, collectively these stormwater pollutants can have a big impact on our health and the health of our watersheds.

Sediment run-off from disturbed earth, excess nutrients from fertilizers, pathogens from animal waste, as well as pesticides and other chemicals can be carried into storm drains, eventually pouring right into the stream.  The impact on our watershed, translates into an impact on all of us.

Below are some simple solutions to reduce your stormwater impact.  For a better understanding of how stormwater pollutants impact the watershed and to see more solutions, visit our partner site;

Stream Smart: A Bear Creek Clean Water Project

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Be Stream Smart

Household chemicals

  • Never pour household chemicals down the storm drain.
  • Recycle or properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, and used motor oil and other auto fluids. Jackson County holds a Household Hazardous Waste Collection once a year, usually in May.  See the Jackson County Recycling Partnership website for details.

Lawn Care

Fertilizers and pesticides used for lawns and gardens, especially when used in excess, wash off and pollute streams. In addition, organic waste from your yard, in the form of clippings and leaves can flow into the stream and contribute too many nutrients.  The excess nutrients provided by organic and chemical additions can cause algal blooms. When the algae dies, it decomposes, using up oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic organisms.

  • Be aware of how much water your lawn needs.  Try not to over-water and consider a drip or soaker rather than a sprinkler.
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams. To learn how to recycle your yard waste back into nutrients, see our Garden Composting page.
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch, so they don’t enter the stream as sediment.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, follow the directions and don’t use more than needed- it only washes away and into the stream. Use organic mulch or non-chemical methods whenever possible.

Septic Systems

Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems can quietly leach into the groundwater or into stormwater and release excess nutrients and pathogens.  Being a good septic owner helps protect your health and the public health, as well as preventing environmental degradation.

  • Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3 to 5 years).
  • Don’t dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.

Auto Care

Washing your car at home and ignoring a leaky car can send detergents and other contaminants into storm drains. Disposing of auto fluids into the storm drain, is the same as emptying it into your local stream.

  • Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your yard so the water infiltrates into the ground.
  • Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.

Pet Waste

Leaving pet waste on the ground, increases public health risks by contributing nutrients and harmful pathogens (bacteria and viruses) to our watershed.

  • Remember to pick up after your pet.  Like your own waste, flushing it down the toilet is the best way to dispose of it, but bagging and tossing it is better than leaving it out to pollute.


For more information on how you can protect our watershed on your farm or through your business, see our partner site:

Stream Smart: A Bear Creek Clean Water Project