Don't Let Your Spring Cleaning Turn Into Stream Pollution

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Spring is here and many Arlingtonians will take the opportunity to begin spring cleaning, home improvement and maintenance, and to start preparing for warmer weather. Each spring, Arlington’s Pollution Prevention team also sees an uptick in reports of stream pollution connected to these activities. Here are some tips for how to keep your spring cleaning from turning into stream pollution.  

1. Use Indoor Drains for Home Improvement Cleanup 

Always use an indoor drain (like a utility sink) to pour out dirty or soapy water from spring cleaning or to rinse paint brushes or other equipment from home improvement projects. The water from indoor drains is treated at Arlington's Water Pollution Control Plant, while outdoor storm drains or yard inlets carry water straight to the nearest stream. 

If you’re hiring a contractor for painting, grouting, tile work, power washing or even a cleaning service, show them which indoor sink they can use to clean up or pour out their wash water after they’re done. Remove any solids first and throw them in the trash.

If you have latex-based paint left over from your project, you have two options. You can save it for retouching or add absorbent material, dry it out, and throw it in the trash. NEVER pour it out on the driveway, in the street gutter, or in the storm drain. Only rain in the storm drain!

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2. Cleaning Up Hazardous Outdoor Spills  

Your home or car project went awry, and you spilled some paint, oil, grout, pesticides, herbicides or other liquid chemicals on the driveway or pavement. What do you do now?  

Before you start a project involving these chemicals, always make sure you have cleanup supplies on hand: paper towels, rags, sand, kitty litter. Make sure you are wearing waterproof gloves that will keep your skin safe from contact.  

First, immediately stop the spread. Use paper towels, rags, or other materials to prevent the liquid from spreading or running down the driveway.  

Second, absorb the liquid. Use kitty litter, sand, or other materials to absorb the full spill.  

Third, sweep up the kitty litter, sand, rags, or paper towels. Dispose of the materials in the trash.

NEVER wash paint, oil, or other liquid chemicals into the street or storm drain. Only rain in the storm drain!  

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3. Keep Yard Waste Out of the Storm Drain 

Never let your grass clippings go over the curb - if they fall in the street, sweep or blow them back up onto your property so they don't end up in the storm drain. Help keep them out of our streams and rivers. Bag them up, let them break down on your lawn as fertilizer, or compost them.  

Keep your mulch out of the storm drain! Ask your contractor to put the mulch pile in the driveway or move it into garden beds immediately. Don't let your mulch end up in the stream.  

Check out more green gardening tips.

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4. When You Drain Your Pool, Follow The Rules 

Pool owners may also start thinking about opening their pools up in the spring. Make sure you or your contractor are following best practices when draining your pool. 

When you drain your pool, follow the rules.

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Earth Day is Every Day

While Earth Day happens each spring, we can do our part in preventing pollution year-round. When we follow good practices with our homes, yards, and vehicles, we can be good stewards of our local streams, parks and neighborhoods. Share these tips with your friends and neighbors to help support healthy streams in Arlington.

Learn about more ways to prevent pollution and protect local streams.

Participate in Earth Day events and volunteer opportunities.