Why its important
A Clinton River tributary running though a Troy neighborhood
We are all blessed to be living in one of the most extraordinary water wonderlands on earth...the Great Lakes and their watersheds. Many of us feel that since we don't live on a lake we're not impacting the health of our lakes. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, one could say that all of us live on lake front property because eventually the rain that falls on our ground gets to the Great Lakes. These are the same lakes that your drinking water comes from. So ultimately you decided what's in your drinking water based on what runs off your lawn.
Did you know?
- Trout and salmon have returned to parts of the Clinton River. While this is a wonderful development, thee are risks...
- Any substance dumped into most storm drains goes directly into our lakes and rivers without going through a treatment facility.
- The vast majority of pollutants of our rivers and lakes come from residential rather than commercial sites.
- The single greatest threat to the health of our streams, rivers and lakes is the fertilizers we use on our lawns.
- Your drinking water comes from the very lakes that the pesticides you put on your lawn run into when it rains. It's all connected.
Here's one our our typical Troy storm drains. It drains into our rivers and Great Lakes. You can see the marking on the drain. It encourages us to take actions so... Only Rain goes in Our Drains.
Here's a picture of a lawn in Troy that is being maintained with two applications of organic fertilizer per year. By doing this you save our water and save money, but most importantly it's so much safer for your children and pets. Much to the dismay of the lawn care industry, you really do not need six treatments per year to have a nice lawn.
Troy home using safe organic lawn care
The biggest reason all this is so important is that we each can make a difference with our choices. We've provided 7 Simple Steps to Clean Water in the section to the right. We've tried to make it easy to "go green" with your choices. The idea is not to do all of them, but to start with one or two...and then do more when you can. We in the Great Lakes Green Initiative community have a saying "Small is Big." If each of us just takes a small step, together we'll make a big difference. Please feel free to contact us if you want help or have some information.
What you can do ... making green choices
You can make a difference. Start small...pick one or two that you think you can easily do and try them. They'll make you feel good that you're helping to keep planet earth healthy.
1. Use Lawn Fertilizers Carefully
This is the single most important step you can take. Just try one of these ideas.
- Reduce and Save - studies show most people over-fertilize their lawns. Have your soil tested to see what you need. Most people need only a spring and fall treatment. Cut back and save our rivers, lakes and your money.
- Reduce/Eliminate Phosphates - this is the most damaging part of the fertilizers. Pick a fertilizer with a low phosphate number...it's the second number on the bag.
- Switch to Solid/Pellet Fertilizer - it releases the nutrients at rate closer to the rate the lawn can absorb it. The liquid sprays are more likely just to run off.
- Switch to Organic Fertilizers - they are safer for your children, pets and our watersheds. See recommended fertilizers.
- Good local sources are:
2. Keep Pollutants Out of Storm Drains
Only rain should go in our drains. You can help by:
- Sweep - Sweep extra fertilizer, grass clippings, and dirt off driveways and sidewalks so they don't wash into the drains.
- Clean It - clean leaves, grass clippings and trash from the street curb.
3. Use Pesticides Sparingly
Try and use as few pesticides as possible. There are some excellent biodegradable or organic alternatives (organicgardenpests.com). Ask for them at your local store. Call Organic Pest companies to spray.
4. Dispose of Hazardous Waste Products Properly
These include old pesticides, old fertilizers, motor oil, paints and solvents. They can cause serious damage to our watersheds, wildlife and a health risk to our families. SOCCRA, your local recycling center, will dispose of household hazardous waste for FREE. Call (248) 288-5153 to arrange an appointment that's convenient for you to drop it off. RRRASOC, for SW Oakland County, has hazardous waste disposal days that they pickup.
5. Clean Up after Your Pets
Pet waste left on sidewalks, streets and lawns contains bacteria that can wash into our rivers and lakes making them unsafe for swimming and other recreational use.
- Dispose of properly - pick up pet waste and dispose in your trash.
- Watch wildlife - don't feed them - watching wildlife is fun. Feeding them can cause them to gather in large numbers and pollute our streams and ponds.
6. Choose Water-wise Landscaping Approaches
- Mow high - cut your lawn at 3" hight. Taller grass requires less water, promotes root growth and shades out weeds.
- Reduce lawn - convert areas of your lawn to gardens. How about a beautiful native wildflower garden!
- Cover bare soil - Use a 4" cover of compost, pine needles or leaves to cover bare ground. They keep the water in and the weeds down. This all means less work for you. Compost is available at the Troy Public Works building on Rochester Road between Wattles and Long Lake.
- Use native plants - be part of a new trend in landscaping to use Michigan native plants. They take so little care because they are equipped to tolerate the Michigan weather. You can get native plants at most local nurseries. We've used some special native plant nurseries with great success. One is the Native Plant Nursery in Ann Arbor.
Rain barrel installed at Troy home
- Use a rain barrel These are great way to save water from rains and use it on your landscaping and lawns when they're dry. They can save you money by reducing your water bills. We even can show you how to make a rain barrel for less than $25 by clicking on this rain barrel link.
- Water wisely - about one inch per week. Over-watering actually makes the lawn weaker and more prone to disease.
7. Green Approaches to Car Care
A few ideas to make caring for your car more earth-friendly:
- Be careful with oil - watch to see if there are any oil spots under your car. You can put cat litter on any oil spots and then dispose of it at SOCCRA. This also applies for any used oil from oil changes.
- Wash it naturally...on the grass It cleans your car and waters your grass at the same time. We even have a natural car soap recipe you can make.
- Car washes are OK - if time or weather don't allow you to wash it at home, most car washes treat their waste water before discharging it in the lakes and streams.
We'd like to acknowledge the work of the Clinton River Watershed Council in providing guidance and content on this list.