National Water Quality Month; What are you doing to help keep our water clean?

National Water Quality Month

It’s mid-August. Another super hot week here in southwestern Ontario. Most Canadians and Americans are enjoying the remaining two months of the Summer. Many home owners in my neighbourhood are using their lawn sprinklers to water their well-maintained, golf course-caliber lawns. August is also National Water Quality Month for the U.S., and unfortunately, watering your well-fertilized lawn is harming our environment and reducing the quality of the very thing you use to feed that lawn: water.

National Water Quality Month; What are you doing to help keep our water clean?

National Water Quality Month reminds us to take a long, hard look at what our households and communities are doing to protect our freshwater resources. According to the United Nations, eutrophication, or the incidence of high-nutrient concentrations – phosphorus and nitrogen – is the most widespread water pollution problem globally. Although vital for plants, excess nitrogen and phosphorus contribute to algae blooms, fish die-offs, and bad odors and cloudy appearance in ponds, lakes and streams. Nitrogen in drinking water can be harmful to humans, even at low levels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one way to significantly reduce water pollution from agriculture and households is to apply fertilizers in the proper amount, at the right time of year and with the right method.

National Water Quality Month; What are you doing to help keep our water clean?

The way people manage wastewater from cities, farms and industrial sites also contributes and exacerbates this problem. In terms of the individual household’s effect on water quality, it is mainly water runoff from people’s yards and wastewater from sewage that is polluting our freshwater sources. According to the Audobon Society, individual households may not produce enough pollution to force a beach closing or cause a fish die-off, but the combined output of all the homes in a community can be severe. Consider that about half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline where runoff flows quickly to the ocean, and it becomes apparent why watershed protection — protecting not only the body of water but the area that drains into it — is important.

Further, The EPA reports that 40 percent of the U.S. waterways suffer water quality problems. It has created a watershed database, which allows users to locate the area they live in and learn about how polluted the water is and what actions they can take to protect their regional water quality. Clean Water Action California also offers a factsheet on what individuals and families can do to prevent water pollution from their homes: 

  • not using antibacterial soaps or cleaning products
  • not flushing unwanted or out-of-date medications down the toilet or drain
  • not putting anything but water down storm drains
  • fixing leaks that drop from cars and putting liners in driveways to collect oil and other materials
  • avoiding using pesticides or chemical fertilizers
  • choosing nontoxic household products whenever possible
  • cleaning up after pets

Protecting the oceans and lakes of our planet is a responsibility that we all share: both individuals and industrial entities. As with most issues in this world, it’s the little things we do that matter. As such, let us start improving our waterways: one lawn at a time.

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portrait of William Lee

About the Author

This is Will, current content coordinator at Trusted Clothes. Will is a writer at heart with a journalism print background. An award-winning writer and video producer, Will divides his time between super-heroing at Trusted Clothes and being a complete die-hard Star Trek fan. And wearing funny Captain Picard shirts too.

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