7 Tips for Ensuring Safe Water Quality In Your Community

Keeping local water safe for consumption is one of the most important duties of any community. Many people assume that local water treatment plants will keep drinking water completely safe, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are many possible sources of water pollutants, several of which are unknown to most people. Here are 7 expert tips to help keep your community’s drinking water safe.

1. Don’t Dump Trash in Toilets (or Sinks!) 
Dumping waste down your toilet or sink can cause serious problems with local water quality. Many people dump old pills down the toilet, but chemicals in these pills can contaminate water supplies and create health hazards–bring old pills to a pharmacy with a take-back program instead. You’ll also want to avoid dumping oils, chemical cleaners and other household products down the sink. Many of these products contain toxic chemicals, such as ammonia and formaldehyde, that you don’t want polluting your community’s water.

2. Use Absorbent Outdoor Surfaces 
Rainwater flows quickly and easily over hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt, and it can pick up dirt and other substances and carry them down storm drains. To prevent water source pollution, use paver stones or other absorbent materials whenever possible, and when hard surfaces are necessary (as is the case with driveways,) line the area with trenches containing plants or gravel to catch runoff.

3. Limit Pesticide and Fertilizer Use 
Pesticides and fertilizers applied to your yard can eventually seep into groundwater and eventually end up in the lakes and rivers we use as drinking water sources. To prevent drinking water contamination, use natural fertilizer and avoid pesticides as much as possible.

4. Keep up with Car Maintenance
Oil, antifreeze and coolant that leak from your car onto your driveway can be picked up by rainwater and leak into groundwater supplies. To avoid unexpected pollution, keep your car’s maintenance up to date, visit a car wash frequently and remember to check for leaks.

5. Update your Plumbing
Your home’s pipes can carry pollutants from your home’s plumbing to water supplies. Lead poses the greatest threat, so be sure to switch out lead pipes or pipes with lead paint, but this isn’t the only potentially toxic substance. Old, corroded copper pipes may leak copper into water supplies, and excess copper levels in drinking water can cause liver and kidney damage.

6. Pick up After Pets
Outdoor pet waste on your lawn can cause bacteria to be picked up by stormwater. The best and easiest way to avoid this type of drinking water pollution is to scoop pet waste off your lawn as soon as you notice it.

7. If You See Something, Say Something 
Don’t worry about being a tattletale–if you see a neighbor or local business doing anything that might pollute drinking water sources, contact a local environmental preservation group. They can then contact the Clean Water Network or Waterkeeper Alliance, or the EPA in severe cases.

Overall, vigilance is the best defense against water pollution. Do everything you can as a homeowner to avoid leaking pollutants into local water supplies, and also remember to notify authorities if you observe a potential water pollution risk. As long as everyone in your community does their part, it isn’t difficult to keep local drinking water safe.