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If you live in Onondaga County you can be part of the rebirth of Onondaga Lake! Community members can make small changes at home and in their neighborhood that will have an impact on the water quality of the Lake and its tributaries.

Here are a few ways that community members can help make an impact:

1.) Combat Litter – Litter in our streets can make its way to our lakes and waterways during storm events. The best way to avoid this pollution is to stop litter at its source. Make it a personal goal to always toss your trash in its proper place – the garbage or recycling bin – and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. Or better yet, rethink the products and materials that you use at home and beyond. Make reusable products part of your daily routine and avoid single-use products where possible. Another great way to make an impact is to spend time each week picking up litter in your neighborhood. Try starting with a 10 minute cleanup each week! Visit our “Connect the Drops” site to learn more about how rainwater and litter are connected.

2.) Keep the Storm Drain Clear – Grass clippings, leaves and other yard debris should not make their way to the storm drain! In the Fall, you can use your mower to mulch leaves and allow them to stay in place on your lawn. You can also collect them in leaf bags and place them at the curbside (research your local pickup schedule) or bring them to one of OCRRA’s compost facilities.

3.) Soak Up Rain Water at Home – There are many ways to Save the Rain at home! You can divert your gutter into a garden or plant a tree. Both of these actions will allow the ground to absorb stormwater naturally. You can also consider installing porous surfaces for sidewalks, driveways or other walkways on your property. Onondaga County also provides members of the community with free rain barrels! Rain barrels are great ways to capture and use stormwater to irrigate your lawn, water your plants or wash your car.

4.) Use and Dispose of Chemical Products Properly – DO NOT dispose of gasoline, paint, motor oil, fertilizer, pesticides or any other chemicals by pouring them down your household or storm drains. Homeowners should contact the compost facilities for instructions on disposal of these products.

5.) Sump Pumps – Make sure that sump pump drains are not tied into the sanitary sewer system. If they are they should be disconnected. Instead, a discharge tube should run from the sump pump to the exterior of the building.

6) Look for the Zero – Before you buy lawn fertilizer, check the bag for a set of three numbers. These numbers show the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium contained in the fertilizer. Buy a bag with a “0” as the middle number. This means that the fertilizer does not contain phosphorus. This is important because phosphorus is one of the leading causes of water pollution. Fertilizer can wash off your lawn and make its way to our lakes and streams. Excess phosphorus, introduced into water bodies through fertilizer runoff, can cause overgrowth of algae, including harmful blue-green algae. Remember to follow the directions on the bag for proper application rates and methods!

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    Click the links below to download a Residential Rain Garden brochure (PDF): English Espanol ...(read more)