We are reaching the end of the rainy season in Southern California and runoff from rain can be a major pollution issue for ocean water. The Surfrider Foundation recommends people never swim or surf after a rain because of illnesses caused by water pollution. Runoff from urban areas and leaking sewer pipes makes it easy to get sick after going in the water. Surfers and swimmers should really wait 72 hours after a rain before they get back in the water. After a rain the ocean may contain several disease-causing organisms and viruses are the number one cause of swimming-associated diseases. I thought surfing and the ocean were fun, but thinking about contracting viruses causing gastroenteritis, hepatitis, respiratory illness, and ear, nose, and throat problems takes most of the fun out of going.
Then when you add the “Toxic Cocktail”to the mix (pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals flushed into the water from runoff) running on the beach is starting to look like a much better alternative. Or instead of finding alternatives to swimming and surfing let’s ask the question – what are we going to do about the runoff problem? For a start let’s take a look at ways we can help reduce water pollution and if you are thinking I don’t live by the ocean, so I don’t have to worry about this think again. Here is some information from American Rivers explaining most Americans live within a mile of a river or stream, and all of our drinking water comes directly or indirectly from rivers and streams. These streams and rivers are subject to pollution too.
1. Number one is simple. Use less water. The less water we use the less water we put in our sewage system. Reducing landscape water use by all the means found on this blog have benefits for reducing water pollution as well.
2. Take time to participate in a beach, river or stream cleanups. Remove the trash before it washes into the water.
3. Use a mulching mower instead of bagging grass clippings. Mulching mowers add a natural layer of compost to your lawn and you don’t have to deal with disposal of grass clippings.
4. Start composting yard wastes with a bin or barrel.
5. Remove grass clippings from the sidewalks after you mow and put them back on the turf not the street or gutter.
As you can see it’s easy to start making a difference when it comes to water pollution. Not one of us can make a huge difference by ourselves but if all of us participate we can make our waters more safe. I’m sure you have a few ideas of your own and we would appreciate it if you shared them with other readers in the comments section below. Thanks and happy surfing!