Protecting Streams and Lakes

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When it rains, water flows over impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops, and parking lots. That runoff picks up oil, chemicals, and other pollutants and carries them into the storm drain system. Unlike the sanitary sewer system that drains waste from homes and businesses, water that enters the storm drain system is not treated at a wastewater treatment facility. It drains directly to a nearby streams.

Everyone -- residents and businesses -- can make a difference in protecting our water quality.

What You Can Do to Help?

  • Properly dispose of used motor oil at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, 2750 Patterson Street. Many auto parts stores also recycle used motor oil.
  • Report any non-emergency pollution problem by calling the City Contact Center at 336-373-CITY (2489). For emergency pollution problems, such as major spills, call 911.
  • Never dump anything down a storm drain. Storm drains carry untreated water directly to our lakes and streams.
  • Keep your leaves and grass clippings out of the street to keep them from washing into storm drains and causing local drainage problems.
  • Keep your automobile and your gas-powered lawn mower or blower well tuned so they do not drip toxic fluids.
  • Do not use chemicals on your lawn before it is expected to rain, and try using organic or slow-release products, which are better for your lawn and for the environment.
  • Be conservative with pesticides and herbicides (weed killers) and try natural alternatives. Call your local Extension Service to find out more about natural pesticides.

What Can Businesses Do to Help?

  • Businesses should develop a "spill response plan" and train employees on the proper procedures to follow in the event of an accidental spill or discharge.
  • Properly label all containers. All containers (even empty ones) should be labeled and stored with lids and under a roof or shelter.
  • Use dry absorbent materials (such as Oil Dri or kitty litter) to contain and clean up spilled chemicals. Then properly dispose of the waste.
  • Verify that your floor drains are connected to the sanitary sewer system, not the storm drain system.
  • Never wash spilled chemicals, trash, or grease into a parking lot, off a loading dock, or into a storm drain.
  • Keep trash dumpster areas clean and lids closed.
  • Wash vehicles in a proper facility (such as a licensed car wash) that disposes all water to the sanitary sewer system.
  • Block storm drains before power-washing buildings or equipment, and collect the water with a liquid vacuum device for disposal to the sanitary sewer system.
  • Don’t apply lawn chemicals before it rains, and follow label instructions carefully to prevent over-application. Fertilizers or pesticides that are applied to your landscape can ultimately run off into local lakes and streams.
  • Make sure landscaping wastes such as grass clippings and leaves are disposed of properly. Yard waste and debris can cause localized flooding problems, as well as other environmental concerns. If you use a landscaping company, ask about the company's practices.

Additional information:

Call the City Contact Center at 336-373-CITY (2489) to:

  • Report any non-emergency type pollution problems
  • Volunteer your organization for the Adopt-A-Stream program
  • Ask about any environmental questions or concerns you may have

For emergency pollution problems, call 911.


Have you seen this sign?

watershedsignWatershed signs like this are located all over the Triad near stream crossings. The signs are intended to inform residents about the streams that run through our community. The top sign names the larger body of water that the stream drains into, and the bottom sign names the stream that the motorist is crossing over. Each of us lives in a watershed.

This effort is part of a regional education campaign created by the Piedmont Triad Water Quality Partnership, of which Greensboro is a member. The partnership was formed to meet a federal stormwater education mandate. By partnering with surrounding communities, the education initiatives are more cost effective.