Courtesy of Collier Pollution Control
What does being “green” really mean? Is it that you don’t litter, that you recycle, or that you buy all organic products? Everyone has a different idea of what it means to be green but you can be green by taking small steps to prevent personal pollution in your backyard. You just have to get your mind in the gutter!
The first step is to become knowledgeable about your local watershed, the common activities within it, and how your activities affect ground and surface water.  What goes into your stormwater system (the gutter) will reach your local beach through a series of swales, pipes, ponds and canals. Realize that some stormwater runoff is unavoidable; however, polluted stormwater runoff can be minimized or eliminated. Is your gutter directed right to the driveway and out to the street? Can you hold some of that water on your property longer by using a rain barrel or rain garden? Are you irrigating your driveway or is your irrigation system maintained so that no water is running onto hardscapes or into the stormwater system?
Be aware of the chemicals that are used on your property. To protect ground and surface waters, the stormwater runoff that leaves your property should be free of chemicals, fertilizers and other pollutants. Consider that the excess pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that you use on your lawn will all end up percolating into the groundwater or being carried into the nearest waterbody. Can you use less of the product or is there a nontoxic form?
When maintaining your property, little acts can make a big difference. Vehicles, equipment such as lawn mowers, generators and fuel tanks should never leak onto any surface.  If spills occur, they should be cleaned up immediately and thoroughly.   Even throwing away dog poop instead of leaving it in the yard will reduce the fecal bacteria living on your property and in the stormwater runoff.
The Collier County Pollution Control section is here to help. Take the first step by increasing your personal awareness with a presentation on your watershed, stormwater system, water quality, Florida Friendly Landscaping™, proper fertilization techniques or creating rain gardens. For a presentation, more information about our services or to report illicit discharges contact us at 239-252-2502 or pollution_control@colliergov.net.