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Protecting Our Waterways Begins with You#

When It Rains, It Drains to the Poudre#

Poudre River

Cache la Poudre River

Water from inside our homes goes to a water reclamation facility for purification. But water from roofs, streets and outdoor spigots goes untreated directly into storm drains – straight to the Cache la Poudre River and other streams, creeks, ditches and lakes – picking up all sorts of contaminants along the way. According to the EPA, stormwater pollution is the number one source of water pollution in the country. 

To minimize pollutants transported by stormwater runoff into the storm sewer system and downstream receiving waters, the City implements programs in accordance with the Colorado Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit.

Learn More about MS4

Why Does this Matter?#

dog by lake

In addition to providing plants essential moisture and returning water back to our streams, each rain storm also washes away dirt, automotive fluids, pet waste, fertilizers, trash and other pollutants common in our urban environment.

However, these pollutants don’t just go away. Aquatic plants and animals depend on clean water to survive and thrive, but excess pollutants can destroy aquatic habitats. Chemicals, bacteria, and other pathogens can create health hazards, while trash and debris can choke wildlife – and the list doesn’t stop there.

Excess nutrients from pet waste, yard waste and fertilizer, among others, also pollute stormwater runoff, contributing to the third greatest cause of lake deterioration in the U.S. Too many nutrients in streams, rivers and lakes cause rapid growth of algae. Algae not only looks bad and smells bad, it also degrades water quality and can be harmful to your health. As algae decays, it uses up oxygen in the water, leading to a decline in our drinking water quality and making it more expensive to treat.

How You Can Help#

Emergency spills include hazardous materials, large volumes of contaminants or contaminants that are potentially life-threatening or harmful to the environment. It also includes spills or illegal dumping directly into a storm drain, creek or river. 

For other spills or illegal dumping, report online at Access Fort Collins or call 970-221-6700.

Please Pick Up After Your Dog#

The "Poop Fairy" is the stuff of legend, flying under the radar in parks, natural areas, neighborhoods and schoolyards. They are said to follow dogs and their owners, picking up smelly presents left behind before flying off to the next canine creation. There is a widespread belief that they exist, and this seems to reassure some that cleaning up after their dog is optional. 

If only that were the case. But, unfortunately, there is no "Poop Fairy." If you don’t pick it up, no one will.  

Learn More

When it rains and as snow melts, runoff carries pollutants such as oil, antifreeze, gas, transmission fluid and other products down storm drains, contaminating our rivers, streams and lakes. Small leaks and drips add up.

Learn More

Did You Know?#

  • Washing your car in the driveway can send about 120 gallons of grime-filled water downstream. The soap, together with dirt, grease and grime flows untreated into nearby storm drains, which run directly to the Poudre River and other nearby lakes and streams.
  • Lack of routine vehicle maintenance can be a leading contributor to stormwater pollution because runoff carries pollutants such as soap, oil, antifreeze, gas, transmission fluid and other products to local waterways.
  • One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate up to one million gallons of water. Dumping oil where it can get into our drainage system is like dumping it directly into our streams and rivers.
  • These pollutants are harmful to the environment and the natural aquatic ecosystems.

Be Car Smart#

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Excess fertilizer and yard waste can harm water quality if they get washed down storm drains. Just one pound of fertilizer over-application on the average lawn can equate to 34.2 lbs. of excess algae growth in streams and lakes. That’s one ton for every 60 homes!

Fertilize Effectively

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s application recommendations. More isn’t better!
  • In Colorado, you might need to fertilize lawns twice per year. If you do, late spring and early fall are the best times to do it.
  • Fertilizing in the early fall promotes healthy root systems – leading to stronger, more resilient lawns and plants.

Turn It Down

  • Watch the weather and make sure to not apply when storms will be approaching.
  • Adjust sprinkler systems based on weather, repair leaks, and reduce runoff.
  • Don't power wash debris into the street.
  • Adjust fertilizer spreaders to apply the correct amount over areas. Fertilizer bags typically provide
    this information or ask at the local garden center.

Choose Wisely

  • Perform soil testing to determine the right amount of fertilizers to apply.
  • Consider using slow-release fertilizers with water-insoluble or slowly-soluble nutrients.
  • Planting species that are native to the region can decrease the amount of turf, water, and fertilizer needed.

The amount of phosphorus in grass clippings generated from just one lawn mowing can produce up to 100 lbs. of unwanted algae if it ends up in our lakes and ponds. Leaf “litter” and landscape trash account for 56% of the phosphorus in urban stormwater, in addition to clogging storm drains and increasing debris in our streams and waterways.

Dispose Properly

  • Compost or bag your leaves and grass clippings. Leaves and clippings left on lawns may blow or wash into storm drains, clogging them and causing flooding in the street.
  • Don't blow grass clippings into the street.
  • Hand-pull weeds when possible.
  • Sweep up any spills or over spray of fertilizers on sidewalks or streets.
  • Make your own compost from leaves and grass clippings to use as fertilizer, saving money on fertilizer and trash collection.

Turn It Down

  • Adjust sprinkler systems based on weather, repair leaks, and reduce runoff.
  • Don't power wash debris into the street.

Did You Know?#

According to the EPA, stormwater pollution is the number one cause of water pollution in the country.

Stormwater pollution occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over patios, sidewalks, streets, and picks up pollutants left behind by everyday activities. These pollutants flow directly into the stormwater system, which drains to our local creeks and river without being treated by a wastewater treatment plant. To protect local water quality, your help preventing water pollution is crucial and required by law. 

Common sources of pollutants include food and beverages, disposable items like napkins, plastic utensils and straws, cleaning products, cooking oil/grease and pressure washing waste.

Why Does This Matter?#

Aquatic plants and animals depend on clean water to survive and thrive. Detergents and organic waste can cause harmful algae blooms. Fats, oils and grease can stress aquatic ecosystems by preventing oxygen from entering the stream. Chemicals, bacteria, and other pathogens can create health hazards, while trash and debris can choke wildlife – and the list doesn’t stop there.

The best way to protect our local streams and the organisms that inhabit them is to prevent pollution in the first place.

How You Can Help#

Grease from a restaurant in a storm drain
  • Never wash anything into a storm drain (food, trash, foliage or water/cleaning agents).
  • Properly dispose of food waste, wash water and grease. 
  • Train employees and contractors on proper cleaning and disposal methods.
  • Never pour or allow fluids containing chemicals, detergents or additives onto the ground.
  • Check outdoor areas daily, including patios, alleys and trash enclosures. Clean up any spills and trash.
  • Cover all grease, recycling and trash bins and contact your service provider if exterior bins need cleaning or emptying.
  • Clean up spills immediately.

Your Brewery Impacts Water Quality#

Hops - Think Outside the Brew

You know that great beer starts with great water. But did you know that the storm drains outside your facility lead straight to the Poudre River and other local streams?

Spent grains and dirty water that get washed down storm drains are not processed through our wastewater treatment facilities. When these materials enter rivers and streams, they can lower water quality by changing pH and decreasing the oxygen available for animals and plants.

Do your part to protect water quality with these tips:#

  • Don't blow your cover. Always protect storm drains using rubber berms or other covers.
  • Color it in. Consider labeling or color-coding drains that lead to the river so employees know to take extra care.
  • Put a lid on it. Keep roll-offs and other containers in covered areas (or use lids).
  • Run on empty. Empty roll-offs and other containers frequently to prevent spills.
  • Leave it high and dry. Use dry clean up methods like sweeping rather than washing spent grain and other spilled materials down the drain.
  • It's an inside job. Wash containers indoors where drains lead to the treatment plant whenever possible.
  • Sharing is caring. Share these tips at your next staff meeting and talk with your coworkers about what they can do to protect water quality.

Brewery Resources#

Did You Know?

Epic Homes offers $60 home energy assessments that can find ways to reduce utility costs and increase comfort.

You can reduce ‘vampire’ power waste by unplugging electronics that are not in use or plugging them into a smart power strip.

You can save water by installing WaterSense showerheads.