Storm water is the runoff that occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground.

Storm water can pick up pollutants, oil, dirt, debris and chemicals the are directly discharged into streams, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Unlike our sewer water, storm water typically does not go through a treatment system before it is discharged, which means whatever pollutants are in the storm water ultimately end up in the surface water where we boat, fish, swim and drink.

Polluted storm water can inhibit the growth of, or even kill, aquatic life, such as fish, turtles, birds and plants. In addition, if fish are poisoned by storm water pollutants, people and animals can become sick or die from eating diseased fish.

Polluted storm water can create hazardous swimming conditions, causing swimming areas at lakes and beaches to be closed. Polluted storm water also affects drinking water, which impacts human health.

There are some simple things we all can do at home to help keep our storm water clean and protect our health and the environment.

Here are a few pollution prevention tips:

Car care

Aca,!AcTry washing your car at a commercial car wash that recycles its wash water. If you wash your car at home, use a bucket rather than a running hose. If possible, wash your car on a grass area rather than concrete so the water goes into the ground instead of storm water drains.

Aca,!AcTake your car to an auto care center for regular maintenance. Repair leaks promptly. Recycle used oil and filters at an auto care center.

Pet waste Pet waste is a major source of bacteria. Pick up after your pet and dispose of the waste by flushing, trashing or burying it.

Lawn care and yard waste

Aca,!AcUse fertilizers and pesticides sparingly. Only use the amount needed. Spot treat when possible.

Aca,!AcDo not overwater.

Aca,!AcPick up leaves, branches and other yard waste from your driveway, sidewalks and lawn. Leaves and other yard debris can clog storm drains.

Aca,!AcCompost or mulch yard waste. Household hazardous waste

Aca,!AcDo not pour hazardous chemicals down the drain, on the ground or into storm drains.

Aca,!AcTake hazardous waste from the home to household hazardous waste collection centers for proper disposal. To locate your nearest household hazardous waste collection center, visit

Aca,!AcUse non-toxic products whenever possible. You can make your own non-toxic, multipurpose cleaner by combining a cup of baking soda, a cup of white vinegar and a cup of ammonia in a gallon of warm water.

To learn more about other easy ways you can help to keep our storm water clean, look for the Storm Water Pollution Prevention brochures available at the mini-mall and Auto Care Center on Fort McPherson, and the Commissary and Post Exchange on Fort Gillem.