Whether you live along a river or not, your everyday actions impact our streams and lakes. Rain and snow melt runs off our roofs, lawns, and driveways, eventually making its way to local streams and lakes. If you live in a city with curbs and gutters, it most likely goes into the nearest storm drain which is piped directly to a stream or lake. It does not get filtered or treated.
There are several steps you can take to “Be River Wise” that will help this water to soak into the ground instead of running off into our streams and lakes. By soaking into the ground, the water recharges our ground water supply (which we drink!), filters out harmful pollutants, and protects local waterways.
STOP INVASIVE AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS
Boaters and anglers are a major source of aquatic invasive species introduction in Michigan. Do your part to prevent their spread by cleaning, draining, drying and disposing every time you leave the water.
- CLEAN boats, trailers and equipment and remove all mud, debris and aquatic plant material from trailers and watercraft before launching or retrieving a watercraft. Use a hose or power washer when available.
- DRAIN live wells, bilges, ballast tanks, and all water from boats before leaving the access site. Consider disinfecting live wells and bilges with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water) when possible. Fish diseases and microscopic life stages of aquatic invasive species can be hiding in seemingly clean water, so draining is an important step.
- DRY all boats and equipment thoroughly before leaving an access area and prior to relaunching in a new waterbody.
- DISPOSE of bait in the trash. Do not release bait into the water. Release of bait and minnows can lead to the unintended introduction of diseases and aquatic invasive species.
- DO NOT TRANSFER FISH to water bodies other than where they were caught. This helps prevent the spread of both aquatic invasive species and fish diseases.
It’s the law
- DO NOT launch or transport watercraft or trailers unless they are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.
- DO NOT transport a watercraft without removing all drain plugs and draining all water from bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells.
- DO NOT release bait into the water.
Violation of the law is a state civil infraction. Violators may be subject to fines. Learn more on the State of Michigan aquatic invasive species website.
What can I do at home?
To be River Wise at home, learn more about these watershed-friendly practices:
You can maintain a lush “green” yard and be more environmentally-friendly at the same time. There are many things you can do to around your yard to protect the environment and keep our streams and lakes clean. Read our full “Green” Yards page to learn about three basic things to consider when working on your lawn and garden.
Did you know lawn and garden watering can account for as much as 40 percent of household water use during the summer?
A rain barrel is a simple vessel used to capture and store rain water that typically runs off your roof during a storm. Rain barrels are an easy way to harvest the rain water that normally runs into the streets and down the storm drain. All that rain water rushes into the nearest lake or stream without being filtered. Large volumes of rain runoff can erode stream channels, harm aquatic wildlife, and overdose waterways with large amounts of nutrients that can cause harmful algae blooms.
Read more about rain barrels and view a step-by-step guide.
You have questions; we get that!
What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is meant to mimic nature by allowing rain water to soak into the ground. It’s a garden bed planted in a shallow depression with plants specially adapted to dry and wet conditions.
Why do we need rain gardens?
Natural landscapes like forests and prairies enable almost all of the rain water to soak into the ground, recharging groundwater (our source of drinking water). Concrete soaks in no rain water. Water that runs off of our roofs and driveways gets polluted by trash, chemicals, dirt, and even heat. This runoff travels directly to streams and rivers through the storm sewer system, which does not filter or treat the water whatsoever.
Learn more about rain gardens including how to create one and access a Rain Garden Guide today!
Explore the various ways to support the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council today!