What Can You Do?
The water of the Brazos River basin touches the lives of many Texans – whether they drink it, depend on it for their livelihood or turn to it for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities. They count on the water to be clean and able to help meet the demands of a growing state population.
And while for years the Brazos River Authority has worked with agencies in programs to keep our river clean, it’s up to all of us to ensure the future of the Brazos River.
So, what can you do? A lot, actually. And it’s not as hard as you might think.
Prescription Drugs – Don’t dump your unused medicines in the toilet or the trash.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other government and public safety officials and typically held in the community twice a year. While water treatment plants can remove some chemicals, at this time, wastewater systems are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals. At this point, the best way to reduce the amount of chemicals in our water is at their source. Improper disposal of old or unneeded drugs at homes or medical facilities is one of the factors that is probably the easiest to change. Additionally, throwing prescription or over-the-counter medications into the trash can also contaminate our drinking water system. Municipal trash is most often taken to landfills where rainfall, runoff and other liquids can dissolve discarded drugs allowing them to sink into the soil then into our groundwater.
Federal officials encourage people with unwanted or leftover drugs to not flush them or throw them away, but instead take advantage of local drug take-back or hazardous waste collection programs. Learn more here.
Fertilizers – Apply fertilizers to our lawn and garden according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
Nutrients occur naturally in the environment and are the elements that aid in the growth of plant life. However, nutrients may unintentionally be added to the water system when too much fertilizer is applied to farm fields and lawns. Rainfall and irrigation wash surplus fertilizers into the water system, resulting in excessive plant and algae growth that can deplete oxygen available for fish and cause taste and odor issues in our drinking water. Follow the instructions carefully when fertilizing your area. Learn more here.
Hazardous Household Waste – Know what shouldn’t put into your trash can.
Many people do not realize that many commonly used household products, such as garden pesticides, are a hazardous waste product. Pouring them down the drain, flushing them or allowing them to drain into our lakes and streams through storm sewers is not only harmful to the environment; it contaminates your drinking water. In many cases, improper disposal of hazardous waste is illegal. Hazardous Household Waste collection events are held throughout the Brazos River basin each year to allow for the proper disposal of these products. Learn more here.
Separating Storm Debris – Cleaning up your neighborhood can help keep us all healthy!
Stormwater pollution is a major cause of contamination in our waterways. During rainfalls, everything from plastic bags to pesticides to the auto oil that leaks from cars can be carried from our streets into our streams. Storm drains take rainfall runoff and everything in its path directly into a local waterway, affecting fish and wildlife. Most importantly, since much of our drinking water in Texas originates from local lakes, rivers and streams, this pollution could affect you. It’s not just littering that causes a problem.
Being conscience of stormwater pollution consequences will ensure that your local recreational and drinking water sources, as well as wildlife, will be safe for you and your community to enjoy. Learn more tips to separate storm debris here.
Fats, Oils, Greases – Be very careful about what you put down your sink or flush in your toilet.
Fats, oils, and grease – unlovingly referred to as FOG – can come from meats, butters, lard, food scraps, mayonnaise, sour cream, sauces, salad dressings, dairy products, and cooking oil among other items. When those substances are put down the kitchen drain – or flushed down the toilet – they harden and cause pipes under your home and the sewer pipes leading to your local wastewater treatment plant to clog. The clog has been known to back up into a home, lawn, neighborhood or street. The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality is a dangerous – and potentially costly – practice when it comes to putting the wrong items down your drain.
The less-than-appealing congestion can cause health issues, potentially make its way into a nearby stream or river affecting drinking water, or worse yet, back up directly into your home! Learn more about what you can and cannot put down your sink here.
Pet Waste – Be sure to pick up after your pets
One of the most typical neighborhood pollutants in your area is bacteria, specifically the type that occurs when it rains and uncollected pet waste is washed off your property and into local storm sewers and waterways. Bacteria from improper disposal of pet waste can lead to fecal contamination of our lakes and rivers, making swimming and fishing dangerous. It’s really as simple as picking up after your pet.
Protect the Brazos River and the waterways that we love through small changes in your day-to-day life. Together, we can make a difference.