Keeping Our Waterways Clean
Unlike household wastewater which only flows through the sewage system stormwater travels along gutters and drains, straight into rivers, creeks, wetlands.
As it travels, the rainwater collects any litter it comes across along the way, including leaves, grass clippings, rubbish and cigarette butts. As well as litter from our yards and streets, the rainwater mixes with detergents, paints, chemicals and other liquids that people have washed or poured into gutters and down drains.
Here are some Living Smart Tips for your household to help keep litter and liquid waste out of our gutters, drains and waterways.
- Use a broom to sweep up leaves and grass: Even natural material like leaves and garden clippings can harm our waterways, because when they build up in the stormwater system, they absorb the oxygen in the water. This can kill plants, fish and other animals that live in or alongside waterways. By sweeping your gutters and driveways instead of hosing them down, you save water and help keep our waterways healthy. If you compost the leaves and grass you can put them back into your garden as a nutrient rich resource.
- Butt it and Bin it: Millions of cigarette butts are dropped on the ground in streets, beaches and parks every day. Rain and wind carry the butts into the stormwater system, and through to our creeks, rivers, wetlands and bays. Cigarette butts not only pollute and damage our waterways, they also endanger birds, fish and other marine life. Even whales have been found with cigarette butts in their stomachs! Always put your cigarette butts and other litter in the bin. If there isn't a bin available, hold onto your rubbish until you find one. Remember, there are now serious fines for littering!
- Clean up after your dog: Dog droppings left on footpaths or in parks can wash into our catchment, where they increase the level of bacteria and make waterways unsafe for swimming. When you are walking your dog, pick up your dog's droppings with a plastic bag and put it in the garbage bin.
- Wash your car on the lawn: When you wash your car on the street or in your driveway, you're washing detergents, mud, oil and grease directly into our stormwater system. All of these substances build up and pollute our waterways. Detergents that contain phosphates also over-fertilise the water, which can lead to a build up of toxic algae. Move your car onto the grass in your yard before you wash it, and try to use an 'environmentally friendly' detergent that will 'biodegrade' (that is, break down) in the natural environment. If you don't have a lawn visit a friend or relative who does, or go to the local car wash.
- Wash paint brushes in a container: Cleaning paint brushes and rollers over gutters and drains washes chemicals straight into our waterways. The toxins in these chemicals can poison frogs, fish and other aquatic life. When using water based paint, clean the brushes in a container of water on the grass in your yard. The dirty paint water can then be poured onto the lawn and any paint residue can be scraped onto paper and put into the bin.
Here are some ideas for Chemical Free Cleaning Kit Recipes
Create a non toxic cleaning kit, with the chemical free cleaning kit recipes listed (unregistered activity)
challenges, tools and games.
Useful Tips and Facts
- A standard showerhead may use up to 25 litres of water per minute whereas water-efficient showerhead might use as little as seven litres per minute, which is less than a third.
- A water-efficient washing machine may use only one-third the water of an inefficient model.
- An old-style single-flush toilet could use up to 12 litres of water per flush, while a standard dual flush toilet uses just a quarter of this on a half-flush.
- As a guide, running your hose at maximum capacity can use up to 20 litres per minute, so a full 1000-litre tank will provide around 50 minutes of hosing.
- Ask council to provide you with a species list most suitable to your local conditions.
- Check for leaks regularly as even one dripping tap can waste up to 2,000 litres per month. To do this, turn off your water for a few hours, if your meter reading changes it will be obvious that you have a leak.
- Check your pool for leaks. A leaking pool can lose up to 500 litres a day.
- Check your toilet for leaks, a leaking toilet can use up to 15 litres every day.
- Checking your water meter regularly allows you to notice if your property has any hidden leaks.
- Many native plants conserve water with small leaves often covered in a tough or hairy surface. Internal water storage and deep roots help them survive in times of drought.
- Moreton bay residents are entitled to a free cubic metre of mulch a month from the local waste facility.
- Mulch your garden regularly. This helps maintain moisture in the soil and control weeds that compete with plants for water.
- Regularly check outdoor taps, pipes and plumbing fixtures for leaks. A single dripping tap can waste up to 2,000 litres a month.
- Take note of the rainfall your garden receives. If your area has received significant rainfall (more than 50mm) it may be weeks before you need to water again.
- To rinse your razor, run a little water into a plugged sink. Rinsing your razor under a running tap wastes a lot of water.
- Water deeply and less frequently to encourage plants and lawn to grow deeper roots and be more resilient to dry times. Twice a week should be sufficient if you have a well-mulched garden, suitable soil and established plants
- Where possible reduce the amount of time you use your garbage disposal unit. This will save up to 7 litres a minute.