Resources for Homeowners



Many things that you do around the house can result in stream pollution. The rainfall that runs off your property goes directly to a stream or pond. The runoff from your neighborhood flows to the creeks by your home. There is no treatment process to remove stormwater pollutants, so it’s up to you as a homeowner to control pollution “at its source”.

The more hard surfaces you have on your property, the less opportunity for the porous ground (mainly your lawn and gardens) to absorb the rainfall. There are “Low Impact Development” (LID) strategies that can be built into new homes, and older homes can be retrofitted with structures that enhance absorption of pollutants from homes. These are usually in the form of “rain gardens” – low areas that are filled with absorbing materials and plants that look like small wetlands or butterfly gardens. Rain gardens are especially good at trapping pollutants.

The greatest reason for stream impairment in Oklahoma is excess bacteria. Urban areas are a significant source of bacteria. Rooftops collect leaves, bird droppings and dirt which will be washed off with every rainfall. Animal waste from pets, birds and small animals in urban areas (such as squirrels, mice, raccoons, etc.) all contribute to large amounts of bacteria washing to streams with every rain event.

We frequently over-fertilize our lawns and misuse pesticides. It’s tempting to think that if 5 units are needed to control pests, then 20 will be better. But we all need to change how we think about chemical use and follow directions carefully. Refer to the tips below to help.
Pouring used motor oil, paints and solvents down the storm drain inlets in streets violates federal and state laws. Your home contains many of the same chemicals that are used in industries. Chemicals in a stormdrain do not go to any treatment plant, they flow directly to creeks and ponds in your neighborhood.

Washing cars in a driveway discharges soap into the gutter which eventually ends up in local streams. Many soaps contain phosphorus that act as fertilizer in a stream causing a localized ecological upset by over-production of algae. The tips below can help control pollution from homes.

Vehicle Maintenance
• Recycle used motor oil.
• Dispose of used antifreeze / waste fluids at pollutant collection events.
• Do not pour oils / auto fluids into storm drains or gutters.
• Check for oil leaks and drips regularly and fix promptly.
• Use ground cloths / drip pans for leaks and when doing engine work.
• Clean up spills immediately and properly dispose of materials.
• Place used oil in containers with tight-fitting lids and store properly.
• Store car batteries in leak proof containers to prevent acid leaks.
• Recycle car batteries at the store where new batteries are purchased.

Lawn and Garden Care
• Use fertilizers sparingly. Soil tests show actual fertilizer needs.
• Use organic fertilizers; they release nutrients slowly.
• Do not fertilize within 24 hours of rainfall to prevent wash-off.
• Sweep overcast fertilizer / pesticide pellets back onto lawn.
• Mulch, don’t bag grass clippings. It lessens disposal, and recycles nutrients.
• Clean lawn chemical applicators on the lawn.
• Do not apply fertilizer to frozen ground / lawns.
• Use perimeter bedding plants as buffers to contain lawn chemicals in runoff.
• Try organic gardening (no pesticides or fertilizers) or use minimal amounts.

Pet Waste
• While walking your dog, pick up animal droppings with disposable baggies.
• Flush pet waste down the toilet or bury it at least 6 inches deep.
• Pet waste in the trash must be in secure wrappings.
• Obey all local municipal pet waste requirements in city parks.
• Use a lawn animal waste composter.

Washing Your Car
• Wash cars on gravel, grass, or other absorbent surfaces.
• If on pavement, ensure that the water flows into a grassy area.
• Use phosphate-free, non-petroleum, biodegradable soaps.
• Minimize water waste with flow restriction nozzles and automatic shut off.
• Use a bucket for soapy water; don’t add soap directly to sponges.
• Use soaps sparingly or just water with a coarse sponge.
• Do not wash engines or truck parts containing pollutants on driveways.
• Empty soap buckets on the lawn or in a sink, not into the street.
• Use a commercial car wash to clean the engine or under the car.

De-icing in the Winter
• Shovel sidewalks and pathways without chemicals or salt.
• Don’t apply salt or chemicals in deep snow; deicers are ineffective.
• Only use deicers when a storm is about to come through.
• Sweep up any unused material.
• Apply deicers only where traction is critical; use the least amount necessary.
• Reduce salt and other chemicals by adding sand for traction.

The management practices and suggestions for stormwater control measures provided in this website are for
general information purposes only. Local municipal stormwater program managers or the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) should be contacted for specific guidance on what actions need to be taken to
achieve full stormwater permit compliance.