Protect Water Quality

DrainageAs a Broward County resident, one of the most important things you can do towards protecting our water resources is to become more aware of "non-point" sources of pollution. In the past, we have tended to focus on "point" sources of pollution.

Point source pollution originates from a single place, like a pipe or an individual business or industry. You should be careful that you don't have any point sources of pollution on your property - oil being drained from under your car into a storm drain, for instance. Just as important, however, are the non-point pollution sources like fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides that you may use. Many people don't realize that these products are as damaging to the environment as a point source when they are used incorrectly.

First FlushDuring a heavy rain, polluting substances can make their way into larger bodies of water through what is called the "first flush." The first flush means that within the first few minutes of a rainstorm, the bulk of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides are washed away, causing problems downstream.

Excessive growth of algae and other aquatic weeds, like hydrilla and cattails, can occur when nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus leech into the water from fertilizers, animal waste, and eroded sediments. In high levels, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that enter our waterways pose health problems for both humans and animals.

SwaleA number of components are in place in the tertiary system to treat the non-point pollution that runs off our roads and landscapes. These include neighborhood ponds, swales and lakes. These areas collect run off water and allow fertilizers, herbicides, animal waste, oil and other pollutants to settle out before being conveyed to a larger body of water. Swales, ponds and lakes also act as natural filters, removing the pollution from water as it seeps into the ground and recharges the aquifer.

Water quality treatment can only occur if these drainage features are properly maintained. Swales along your property are there for a reason. Do not fill them in or plant shrubbery or trees in these areas.

You should keep your swale well-mowed and free of litter and debris, so that water can flow freely. If you repave or replace your driveway, be sure that the contractor retains the contour of the swale in the newly paved area. Check periodically for erosion or natural build-up of sediments. And, if water collects in the swale, leave it alone - it means the system is working!

Debris - Storm Drain

You may not have control over the maintenance of larger holding ponds, culverts or catch basins. But if you notice that those areas are in need of maintenance, be sure to notify your homeowner's association, municipality, or property manager so they can take care of the problem. Some common problems associated with these areas are infestation by non-native and invasive plants, and trash and debris build up that impedes the flow of water.