By now, you've probably figured out that there are many different ways to protect and restore our waters and that many of them start in our homes and yards. But there is still one major problem we haven't talked about: automobiles.
Now, I'm as fond driving as you are. Nothing makes this pup feel more alive that cruising around with my humans and feeling the wind blow through my fur. But my love for car trips doesn't blind me to the fact that, if they aren't properly cared for, cars can be very harmful to our waters and lakes.
Many people don't realize that oils, antifreeze, and other hazardous fluids that leak out are extremely dangerous when they end up in our rivers and lakes. The easiest way to reduce their impact is to keep up with car maintenance to reduce leaks and to recycle used motor oil. As convenient as it seems, don’t pour waste oil into gutters or down storm drains and resist the temptation to dump wastes onto the ground. A single quart of motor oil that seeps into groundwater can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water.
Besides car maintenance, car washes are another place where some of us have developed bad habits. It may seem more environmentally-conscious to wash your car in the driveway and avoid using a large facility. But in fact, washing a car in a driveway means that all the soap, chemicals, and excess water simply runs into the sewers and out into our rivers and lakes. Instead, take your car to a professional carwash where they are required to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, where it is treated before being discharged. This spares our local rivers and lakes from the brake fluid, oil and automotive fluids. Many carwashes also recycle their wastewater, and use less than half the amount of water a home carwash does.
Above all, the most important thing we can do is be aware. No one is perfect but awareness of where our water goes and what it carries on its journey can make a huge impact on the health of our rivers and lakes down the line.
Remember your training!