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Sulfates are compounds containing sulfur that cycle throughout the environment as part of natural biogeochemical cycles, which means they can enter aquatic ecosystems naturally. Methods of entry into freshwater ecosystems include saltwater intrusion, sea spray, and sea level rise. However, the majority of sulfates originate from surface runoff and air pollution, which is deposited into rivers through acid raid. Sulfates are often used in fertilizer, so pollution near these areas is the worst.

Sulfur compounds can have many detrimental effects on freshwater ecosystems. For instance, they promote the conversion of mercury into its most toxic form, methylmercury, and stimulate sediments to release nutrients, causing eutrophication. Some of the compounds themselves are also toxic to organisms within freshwater environments.


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  • Reduce paved, impervious surfaces

    Impervious or impermeable surfaces, like pavement, contribute significantly to polluted stormwater runoff and alter stream flow habitat. If you’ve got excess pavement you’d like removed, consider a de-paving project with the Compact. Elsewhere, ensure that your downspouts drain to vegetation, gravel, or rainbarrels, rather than impervious surfaces. If you constructing or repairing your driveway, pervious pavement allows stormwater to infiltrate and filter through the ground. If you can’t do the whole drive, consider making only the portion closest to the street pervious.

    Resources include:
    1) De-paving Work – Cumberland River Compact (Call 615-837-1151)
    2) Rain Barrel Sales – Cumberland River Compact
    3) Rain Barrels Make Good Sense – UT Extension

  • Limit Fertilizer

    Fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants can attach themselves to soil particles and find their way to your creek.

    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:

  • 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