The Clear Take on Water and Wastewater Today

The Clear Take on Water and Wastewater Today

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The Use of Lawn Fertilizers by Homeowners Can Lead to Elevated Levels of Nitrates in the Water Supply

Protecting the environment is important to everybody and this month we have a few simple tips to help people prevent elevated nitrate levels in the water supply by simply following the suggested best practices at home. Nitrates are naturally occurring. All rainfall and groundwater aquifers contain some levels of nitrate-nitrogen. Nitrate accumulates in agricultural watersheds where farmers spread inorganic fertilizers and animal manures on cropland. Nitrogen not taken up by crops can leach through the soil to groundwater and then flow to recharge areas or private wells.

The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that many homeowners unintentionally wash fertilizers and herbicides down local storm sewers which then empty into the nearest water supply. Operators can do their part to help homeowners keep waterways pesticide and fertilizer-free by encouraging them to adopt the practices listed below:

Tip 1 – When applying granular weed-and-feed type fertilizer, keep it on the lawn. If granules accidentally land on paved areas, sweep them onto the grass. When cleaning fertilizer or herbicide application equipment, the rinse water will contain small concentrations of chemicals. Therefore, do not wash the equipment on the driveway and do not dump any water into the gutter or storm sewer grate. Apply the rinse water to the lawn.

Tip 2 – Homeowners who use a liquid herbicide should be careful not to over spray the lawn, and not spray it on windy days. These herbicides may land on the street or sidewalk and wash into the storm sewer. They may also drift onto shrubs and sensitive garden plants, or across property lines.

Tip 3 – Consider the benefits of using an organic fertilizer or weed killer. A number of DIY weed killers can be found online, as well as DIY fertilizers. These solutions can cost a fraction of those sold in stores—and are much better for the environment.