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Five Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship with Your Local Waterway

COMMUNITY CENTERClean Water & WaterwaysFeb 11, 2016Rebekah Eastep

Author: Rebekah Eastep

You think being single on Valentine’s Day is bad?

You don’t know the half of it!

happy valentine's! (2)Just imagine spending one day as a creek, stream or river in Hampton Roads. It’s a thankless job and no one ever remembers you on Valentine’s Day. More often than not our waterways don’t get the credit they deserve for all they provide to our region’s 1.7 million residents. Our waterways are responsible for our strong economy and endless recreation opportunities not to mention they are THE defining feature of this unique region! And the residents of Hampton Roads? Well, we can be kind of ungrateful sometimes. Here are five signs to help identify whether you (or someone you know) are in a toxic relationship with your local waterway.

You might be in a toxic relationship if….

  1. You don’t know your watershed. It’s hard to appreciate something when you don’t even know its name! Get on a first name basis with your watershed by using the How’s My Waterway tool to find out what watershed you live in and what underlying health issues your local waterway is experiencing. Think you already know your watershed? Test your knowledge – you might be surprised that your local watershed is not the Chesapeake Bay!
  2. Your use of lawn chemicals is extreme. Lawn chemicals are toxic – you wouldn’t eat them, right? Right! So why are we letting them wash into our rivers where our dinner is swimming? Get your soil tested before applying chemical fertilizers and research natural alternatives to herbicide and pesticide. You should be weighing the pros and cons of applying lawn chemicals each and every time you think about applying them. If you do decide to use lawn chemicals, always follow recommendations on how much and how often to apply.
  3. You don’t scoop the poop in your own yard. Even if your teacup poodle makes “little” deposits in your private backyard, it’s still important to bag it and trash it. It may not be a public nuisance, but the pet waste will still be carried into local waterways the next time it rains. This is true even if you don’t live directly on a creek or river.
  4. There’s litter or trash in your neighborhood. Restaurant menus, drink bottles, cigarette butts and food wrappers are frequently found accumulating in neighborhoods. While these items are not always intentionally littered, they will still end up in your local creek or river. Litter is not only an eye sore but also a potentially harmful pollutant for fish and wildlife. Take care of your local waterway by picking up trash and litter wherever you see it or forming a neighborhood Adopt-A-Spot group with your community association or civic league.
  5. You use the storm drain as a trash can. Sorry, but there is no storm drain fairy who travels around cleaning out storm drains! In fact, there is no formal treatment process for cleaning up what goes into our storm drains. Trash, litter, household chemicals and other pollutants that people illegally dump into storm drains are carried directly into local waterways. Storm drains can also become clogged with trash, leaves and grass clippings and contribute to flooding. To be a good steward of your local river, make sure only rain goes down the storm drain and dispose of household/yard waste and chemicals through your city or county waste disposal programs.

You can’t travel far in Hampton Roads without crossing a bridge of some sort and that’s because Hampton Roads is home to the James, York, Nansemond, Elizabeth and Lynnhaven rivers along with countless creeks, streams, and marshes. It’s really very easy for us to do our part to clean them up so keep these waterways in mind on Valentine’s Day….and every day!

Want to give your waterways more love? Become a Bay Star Home now!



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