Simple, small steps to protect Lake Erie

As we head into spring (yes, I think we are heading into spring even though it doesn’t feel that way!) some of you may be thinking about the condition of your lawn, and also starting to perform more outdoor activities such as washing your car at home. This column is about simple changes you can make to protect Lake Erie. 

Almost all of the storm drains in Bay Village and Westlake drain to Lake Erie – that’s right, what goes in there goes straight out to the lake. This means it is imperative that each and everyone of us take responsibility for what does and doesn’t go down those drains. Springtime brings, sadly, chemical lawn applications. I have written about chemical fertilizers before, asking that you stop using them, and I bet you have! But your neighbor may still use them … What can you do?

If you happen to see the lawn chemicals being applied, please try to watch to make sure they are keeping the chemicals off of the sidewalk, street and driveway. Why? Because when it rains next, those chemicals will be swept away with the rain water, right into the sewer, and straight out to the lake. If the fertilizers are properly absorbed into the lawn, their effect on Lake Erie is a little less. Lawn fertilizers and chemicals are to blame for the toxic algae blooms that happen during the summer in Lake Erie, and that affects not only our recreation but the water we drink. 

What else can you do? Pick up trash along your street or wherever you see it – you are directly helping Lake Erie by performing this simple act. You are preventing that waste from getting into the sewer and going out to the lake. So much of the plastic polluting the lake ends up there via storm drains.

We can each play a role and it is so simple! This is a great message to pass on to your friends and family too. When you walk your dog, consider taking an extra bag with you for trash to pick up along the way. Every little bit helps; you are making a difference.

Another idea is if you like to wash your car at your house, please consider pulling your car onto your grass and washing it there. Why? Because when that soapy water goes into the grass and soil, it is naturally filtered by the earth. When you wash your car in your driveway, all that soap goes directly into the lake without being filtered first! While you may not think that’s a problem because you are using earth-friendly soap, it is still much better for the lake to receive water that has been filtered by the earth first. This is true even when it storms: It is much better for storm water to be absorbed into the earth rather than rushing down streets and driveways and into the lake. 

Protecting Lake Erie is the responsibility of each of us, and we can do it! We depend on Lake Erie for so much, most importantly our drinking water … and we all need clean water to live! Let’s each do our part to protect it.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:08 AM, 03.19.2019