We know nutrients can be beneficial to plant growth, but excess nitrogen that washes off the land and in our streams can pose a threat to human health. Elevated concentrations of nitrates present a health risk to infants and pregnant women. Last spring, high nitrate levels identified in drinking water coming from the Columbus Dublin Road water plant resulted in a water advisory.
Elevated levels of soluble phosphorus can also pose a risk when it promotes toxin-producing algal blooms that can be harmful to humans and pets. Help keep rivers, streams and lakes free of excess nitrogen and phosphorus by:
1. Applying lawn fertilizer at the recommended times and rates. Sweep up any fertilizer from sidewalks, driveways, streets and other hard surfaces, so that it doesn’t wash into storm drains.
2. Keeping your lawn and yard waste (raked leaves, yard clippings, etc.) out of the street and backyard streams. Remember, storm drains discharge directly to our streams.
3. Picking up pet waste and disposing of it properly.
4. Washing your car in an area where the wash and rinse water drains to a grassy area and not the street, or wash it at a commercial car wash.
5. Installing a rain barrel or rain garden to collect rainwater that would otherwise go down the storm drain.
6. Maintaining your vehicles’ pollution control devices. These devices reduce the nitrogen compounds that are released into the air and then return to the ground in the form of rain as nutrients.
7. Making sure your household septic system or aerator is working properly (if you have one).