Need a New Year's Resolution? Try These for Cleaner Water

(HARRISBURG, PA)—With the new year, come resolutions to be healthier by losing weight, quitting smoking, or getting real face-time with family and friends. In the spirit of the season, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) offers resolution suggestions to help manage stormwater on the homefront and improve the health of local waters.

"Stormwater is a leading cause of water pollution," says CBF scientist Renee Reber in Pennsylvania. "Making a resolution to curb the amount of polluted runoff that leaves your property can help prevent damage caused by flooding, limit streambank erosion, and reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that is carried into our rivers and streams."

Roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania are damaged by pollution.

By keeping resolutions from CBF's checklist, people can develop clean-water habits and reap the benefits throughout the year. Local Penn State Extension offices are good sources of additional details.

Plant a tree. Trees are the most cost-effective tools for improving water quality. Trees absorb water, filter pollutants before they get into waterways, and stabilize the soil to reduce erosion. Trees also mean shade and cooler temperatures for water and its surroundings. The presence of trees also increases property values.

Install a rain garden. Rain water soaks into the garden of native plants situated in an area where water collects naturally. The rain garden reduces stormwater beautifully.

Get a soil test. Learning how much, if any, fertilizer is needed for the lawn can prevent over-application, reduce polluted runoff, and save money.

Mow not so low. Mow your grass to a height of 2-3 inches. The longer the blades of grass, the more water is retained and the stronger the root system. A stronger lawn can choke-out weeds, calling for less herbicides.

Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen, a main ingredient in fertilizer. Be careful not to throw clippings into the street where they clog drains and can be washed away with stormwater.

Clear the drain. Keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris that could clog and cause flooding.

Install a rain barrel. Rainwater collected from rooftops and used for watering plants, washing cars and more, won't contribute to flooding and can be helpful when water isn't otherwise available.

Cut the concrete. Converting paved surfaces to grass, rain gardens, or other pervious surfaces allows stormwater to be absorbed before it can become harmful runoff.

Get the big picture. Find out what your municipality is doing to manage stormwater in your community.

Getting the Keystone State back on track toward meeting its clean water goals is an important resolution for all Pennsylvanians in 2017. 

Clean water counts in Pennsylvania. Healthy families, strong communities, and a thriving economy depend on it. It is a legacy worth leaving future generations.

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