News Flash

Arapahoe County News

Posted on: June 22, 2022

Wastewater and wasting water


As summer kicks into gear, there are numerous ways to help local waterways stay clear of debris and pollutants produced by warm-weather activities such as fertilizing lawns and plants, lawn mowing, and walking your dog. 

As the much-needed monsoon rains are forecast in the coming weeks, water running in the streets and gutters produced by these rains will pick up all the “gunk” left on roads and sidewalks. This includes fertilizers, unattended pet waste, leaves, grass clippings, and other pollutants that get washed away in stormwater drainage. 

The result is nutrient pollution in lakes and creeks. This is not only unsightly, but it also degrades water quality. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can cause nutrient pollution and an overgrowth of algae, ultimately removing oxygen from lakes and creeks—endangering fish, lessening recreational opportunities, degrading water quality, and eventually leading to a decline in safe drinking water. 

Picking up dog poop is critical, as this waste contains phosphorous and nitrogen. There are an estimated 1.4 million dogs in Colorado, and each dog generates 12 ounces of waste per day and 274 pounds per year—which adds up to a total of 390 million pounds statewide.

Along with cleaning up after a pet, here are other ways to make a difference in water quality:

  •  Apply the right amount of fertilizer according to the instructions. Clean up any spills and dispose properly. 
  •  Test lawn soil to determine its nutrient needs before you fertilize. A soil nutrient analysis kit is available at most home improvement stores and is an easy, inexpensive way to determine the needs of a lawn. This can reduce costly inputs like water, fertilizer and pesticides and prevent unwanted nutrient runoff. 
  •  Properly fertilize in the Fall, as this promotes healthy root systems—leading to stronger more resilient lawns and plants. Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Excess fertilizer wastes money and washes into lakes and creeks. 
  •  Avoid blowing leaves and grass clippings into the street since they can clog inlets. Compost or bag them instead. 
  •  Adjust sprinkler systems based on weather conditions and repair any leaks to reduce wasteful runoff. 
  •  Consider adding native plants to your landscaping because they naturally adapt to the environment and require less turf, water and fertilizer.

Learn more about the County’s stormwater management program.

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