Stormwater Education

Stormwater: why it matters

When it rains, it drains. Stormwater runoff in Colorado Springs isn’t treated and flows directly into our local waterways along with any other pollutants it collects along the way. This dirty water can harm people, animals and plants. 

Whether we mean to or not, we all pollute water. Everyday activities such as driving  the car or walking the dog can add up to big problems for our waterways. Cleaning up dirty water and repairing blowouts from rain events is expensive. If we all do our part to protect water quality, we all win. We’ll keep our creeks and rivers clean for recreation and enjoyment both today and for future generations. 

Remember, we all live downstream from someone else. We don’t want them sending their pollutants and dirty water to us. We also live upstream from someone else and we have a responsibility not to send our waste downstream.

There are easy things all of us can do to help

Pet Waste

Pet waste is a huge problem in our city. Not only is it unlawful to leave your pet’s waste in our city parks, the poop is a nuisance and can carry viruses and bacteria that are harmful to humans and animals. In addition to the risk of diseases, the organic matter and nutrients in pet waste make the water in our creeks and streams dirty. 

Scoop The Poop PSA from City of Colorado Springs on Vimeo.

Here are four simple ways you can make a difference!

  • Always pick up your pet’s waste, whether on the trail or at home.
  • Never dispose of pet waste in a storm or curbside drain.
  • Don’t use pet waste as fertilizer. Pet waste is very acidic due to our pet’s high protein diets.
  • Never add pet waste to a compost pile. The pile will not get hot enough to kill the disease causing organisms. 

Car Washing

Outdoor car washing can result in high amounts of nutrients, dirt, metals and detergents in our waterways. That’s because the water from your driveway flows into the street, through the stormwater system and into area creeks and streams. 

Did you know?

  • Even small concentrations of pollutants like detergents can kill fish and their eggs. Other animals suffer as well.  
  • Outdoor car washing also sends dirt, grease, oil, automobile fluids, heavy metals, rust, rubber, and trace amounts of benzene and chromium into creeks, streams and waterways.
  • This is the same water that we drink, swim in and the same water that cultivates our food downstream. 
  • The water used in commercial car washes is treated before it enters waterways. They also use an average of 60% less water than car washing at home.

If you do wash your car at home, here are three simple things you can do to help keep waterways clean

  • Wash your vehicle on gravel, grass or other permeable surface.
  • Use plain water with biodegradable soaps.
  • Use a trigger nozzle or a bucket to conserve water.

Lawn Care

Caring for your lawn properly can both enhance its appearance and provide environmental benefits. Healthy grass is a feeding ground for birds, prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants and absorbs airborne pollutants.

Here's what you can do:

  • Use organic mulch and environmentally friendly pest control when possible.
  • Use only the required amount of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Follow manufacturer’s directions. Excess chemicals are washed into our waterways. 
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Grass clippings naturally fertilize your lawn.
  • Do not leave or sweep clippings or other yard waste into the street, on sidewalks, driveways, or parking lots especially around storm drains. Clogged drains cause flooding and maintenance issues.
  • Do not over water! Visit www.csu.org for tips on reducing water use.

How you can reduce fertilizer use

  • Choose plants that resist drought and enhance the growth of other plants.
  • Use a mulching mower and cut 1/3 the height of the grass. Clipped grass adds nutrients back into the soil. 
  • Cut your grass more often and only when dry.
  • Sharpen your lawn mowers blades regularly.
  • Compost yard waste and use it in flower beds and gardens.

How you can reduce pesticide use

  • Landscape for low maintenance and use native plants.
  • Attract birds or bats to your yard. They eat many insects including flies and mosquitos.
  • Use integrated pest management strategies to control pests. IPM utilizes biological principles, cultural practices and limited chemicals in pest control strategies. For more information visit www.epa.org.

We Can Make A Difference
Stormwater Activity Guide
Pet Waste Brochure
Car Washing Brochure
Oil & Other Automotive Fluids Brochure
Substitutes for Household Chemicals Vol. 1 Brochure
Substitutes for Household Chemicals Vol. 2 Brochure
Substitutes for Household Chemicals Vol. 3 Brochure
Substitutes for Household Chemicals Vol. 4 Brochure
Water Quality Guide for Lawn Care
Water Quality Guide for Lawn Care (Spanish Version)
Cigarette Butt Brochure