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As the use of water treatment plants and population increase worldwide, stress can be placed on water treatment plants, resulting in release of untreated sewage sludge. Additionally, the policy in much of the US is to treat storm-water in the same matter as sewage, meaning that in the event of prolonged rain, untreated sewage can be released into waterways. In more developing regions, water that has been “treated” may still contain dangerous pollutants.

Exposure of aquatic life to sewage sludge can result in a variety of issues. Foremost, sewage is filled with pathogens, which can lower the dissolved oxygen and raise the temperature of the ecosystem, rendering it unfavorable for many species. Pathogens in water cause an “oxygen sag,” in which there is a septic zone where no fish can survive. Additionally, sewage in water increases its turbidity, decreasing photosynthesis of aquatic plants and lowering the productivity of the ecosystem.


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  • Adopt

    Are you a member of a group or organization in your community that would be interested in adopting this waterway? Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about stream adoption.

    Learn more about adopting a stream

  • Support public funding of water treatment plants and sewer infrastructure.

    Water related infrastructure is expensive and obtaining funding for necessary sewer and water treatment improvements is often a challenge for communities. However, public dollars are critical to our water quality and public health. Support your community’s efforts to properly maintain it’s water related infrastructure.

    Resources include:

    • America’s Infrastructure Report Card – American Society of Civil Engineers
    • How Sewage Pollution Ends Up in Rivers – American Rivers
    • Greening Water Infrastructure – American Rivers
  • Pick up after your pet.

    Pick up after your pet when s/he is on a walk, at the dog park, or in your own backyard. Dispose of this waste in the trash or toilet. Many pet stores and retailers sell biodegradable bags for picking up waste. Some companies offer pet waste removal services. You can also start a pet education campaign in your neighborhood and/or distribute biodegradable pet waste bags.

    Resources include:

  • Allow for natural growth near waterways

    If you live or work next to a waterway, leave a 35′ to 100′ no mow zone on its banks. Allow natural and native plant growth in this buffer area or plant native trees, bushes, and groundcover. This vegetation can filter pollutants before they reach your waterway and provide other water quality benefits that far exceed those of a mowed lawn. Native plants and grasses require less watering and fertilizer and also provide important habitat for native species of wildlife.

    Resources include:

  • Plant a rain garden

    Rain gardens can filter and infiltrate stormwater that flows across your yard.

    Resources include:

  • Employ agricultural best management practices.

    Excluding farm animals from this waterway and providing them with alternative sources of water can prevent animals from trampling streamside vegetation and defecating in the waterway.

    Resources include:

  • Organize with others in your community. Make your voices heard and your votes count.

    Participate in community planning efforts and advocate for relevant measures that improve or protect water quality. Write to your elected official and let them know this is concern or invite them to speak about the impairment with your home-owners association. When elections come up, vote for candidates who will address the problem and hold them accountable to their promises. Support local watershed / environmental associations.

    Resources include:

  • Spread the word.

    Do your neighbors, family, or roommates know about the problem? Now that you know how to be an effective steward, enlist the help of others in your neighborhood. Share iCreek or resources within it with your neighbors and encourage them to join the effort to protect your creek.