Keep Our Waterways Clean

Help keep our waterways clean! Summer tips


Car Washing

  1. Use a hose nozzle with a trigger to control the amount of water that you use.
  2. Wash your car on the grass or gravel, not a paved surface.
  3. Reduce the amount of soap that you use.
  4. Use a biodegradable or phosphate free soap
  5. Do not rinse sponges and rags on the ground. Rinse them in a bucket and dump the bucket down the
    sink when you are done.


Lawn Fertilizing 

  1. If a fertilizer applicator warns of keeping children and pets off the lawn for 24 hours, it would be wise to discontinue its use all together.
  2. Using a slow release fertilizer is effective as it spreads over time and is less likely to drain away.
  3. Note that when you water and mow your lawn properly, you may not need much fertilizer. For suggestions on mowing and watering visit these on-line resources: or
  4. If you must fertilize, stick to organic fertilizers and do it sparingly. More is not better when it comes to fertilizing! If you decide to fertilize do it sparingly!

For more information on how you can help keep our waterways clean, visit


Help keep our waterways clean! Snow tips

When snow and ice melts, the salt goes with it, washing into our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. It
takes only one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Once in the water, there is no way
to remove the chloride, and at high concentrations, chloride can harm fish and plant life. Less is more when it
comes to applying road salt.

Here are four tips for keeping salt use down:

  1. Shovel first. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use.
  2. Slow down. Drive for winter conditions, and be courteous to slow-moving plows. The slower they drive, the more salt will stay on the road where it's needed.
  3. Use sparingly. More salt does not mean more melting.
  4. Wait for warm weather. Most salts stop doing their job when the temperature is below 15 degrees. Sweep up extra salt. If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement, it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away. The excess can be swept up and reused for the next snow or disposed of.

Winter Water Quality Tips for Southwest Michigan

With the winter weather here it is a great time to stay indoors with family and enjoy the beauty of the season as the snow begins to fall. It is easy to forget about ways to protect our local waterways when it seems everything is frozen!

However, it is important to remember that streams and rivers continue to flow and the responsibility to maintain a healthy ecosystem does not end in the winter. When snow and ice melts, the salt goes with it, washing into our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater.

So, with winter here, consider the following tips to improve water quality in your local streams, rivers and Lake Michigan: 

¨ Consider using non-toxic de-icing substances to melt ice. Chemical de-icers can be hazardous to your pets, birds, fish, trees, shrubs, and the environment. Chemical de-icers on driveways can pollute surface waters and groundwater through the soil. Consider natural alternatives such as biodegradable cat litter, sand, or fireplace ash.

¨ To reduce your use of de-icer chemicals, use physical  methods such as snow shovels, ice crackers, and brooms to clear snow from your sidewalk, porch, or driveway.

¨ Winterize your vehicle by checking your air filter, fluid levels, windshield wipers, and tires for tread wear and  proper inflation. Fix any leaks as oil, antifreeze and other fluids can pollute our local waterways. Ensuring your vehicle is ready for winter weather will keep you safe on the road and our waterways clean.

¨ If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes in a tin instead of throwing them away. Cold wood ashes can be mixed in your compost heap to create a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to your garden.

Winter is a special time to enjoy Michigan’s unique water resources. Do your part this winter to ensure wildlife in and around our local streams and lakes will thrive in years to come.

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