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Keep yard waste out of stormwater

Posted: August 18, 2013 - 12:02am
In our area, army worms are major pests to Bermuda grass, millet and fall vegetables. These pests, and readheaded azalea caterpillars, become active this time of year.  Special Photo
Special Photo
In our area, army worms are major pests to Bermuda grass, millet and fall vegetables. These pests, and readheaded azalea caterpillars, become active this time of year.

Keeping a lawn mowed and debris blown from the sidewalk and driveway are essential to good curb appeal. However, some homeowners don’t realize they are causing more harm than good when they blow their grass clippings and other debris into sewage drains.

The Columbia County Stormwater Utility Department explains that even minimal amounts of dirt, pesticides, fertilizers and lawn clippings can cause major problems.

It is often believed that stormwater run-off, which includes rain that flows across roofs, lawns and down streets, is treated before being released into creeks, streams and area lakes.

“To begin with, a lot of people think that it’s a sanitary sewer drain or that it goes to a treatment facility,” said Jacques Palmer, the project manager of the Engineering Services Division of the Columbia County Stormwater Utility Department.

The rain and debris actually enter the surface waters untreated through the storm drains. Each pollutant that enters the area’s rivers, streams and creeks “can harm natural aquatic habitat and can end up in our drinking water,” notes the county’s stormwater utility Web site.

Additionally, a “significant portion of Columbia County’s drinking water supply comes from the surface water sources such as the Savannah River, Clark’s Hill Lake, and local creeks and streams,” explains the stormwater utility department Web site.

The department offers tips to help prevent stormwater pollution. Among them are using pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and sweeping up yard waste and debris rather than hosing down or blowing those areas. Homeowners are also advised to repair autos, clean up after pets and wash the car on the lawn or another unpaved surface.

If someone is seen discharging pollutants or blowing leaves and debris directly into storm drains, you are asked to call the stormwater utility department at 706-855-RAIN (7246). There is also an online form at www.columbiacountyga.gov where polluters can be reported.

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