How to Keep Our Waterways Clean, Safe, and Beautiful

The Dockshare team and our members love the water; therefore, it’s our daily goal to keep those waterways clean, safe, and beautiful. As a Baltimore-based organization residing along the Chesapeake Bay, Dockshare takes water quality seriously. Water pollution and runoff are two of the most ecological threats we face with our waterways. According to the most recent surveys on national water quality from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of our rivers and streams and more than one-third of our lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing, and drinking.

We want to see the Chesapeake Bay, and all other waterways, thrive for years to come. With a mission to make the water more accessible to everyone, we have a responsibility to uphold. We can all do our part through our everyday actions at home, work, school, and play. Here are several tips to keep your local waterways clean:

1. Donate
It’s often tough to get out and personally clean up the waterways, but thankfully there are plenty of organizations that oversee the hard work, including several local nonprofit organizations to which you  can donate.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay help save the bay every day.
2. Cut back on chemical pesticides and fertilizers
Chemical pesticides and fertilizers eventually runoff into local waterways. These can be dangerous pollutants that cause disease and unmanageable algae blooms. There are numerous alternatives to pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  Do your part by using these as much as possible.
3. Use biodegradable cleaning products

Incorporating biodegradable cleaning products into your daily or weekly cleaning regimens will ensure that you are using safe, non-toxic, and compostable ingredients that don’t adversely affect nature and the waterways. Check out your cleaning products and see if they have the Design for the Environment (DfE) label presented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

4. Clean up after your pet

This seems like a daily routine task, but cleaning up after your pets makes a big difference in our waterways. Animal waste affects the health of our water.  Similar to fertilizer, waste runs off and damages the ecosystem — creating harmful algal blooms that eventually create dead zones.

5. Get your cars/boats inspected regularly

Cars and boats are frequent culprits of oil and gas leaks, which typically start on the pavement but eventually end up in the local water. Be sure to have your car and boat regularly maintenanced to prevent a leak from occurring. This will prevent damage to the local ecosystem and wildlife.

6. Wax your boat and use non-toxic cleaners

Boats require tons of maintenance to keep them running smoothly. This often requires many solvents, soaps, and oils. However, waxing your boat can protect it from damage and ease the need for harmful detergents. When you do need to wash your boat, opt for non-toxic cleaners.

7. Avoid impervious surfaces

Surfaces like pavement and concrete do not allow water to seep into the soil below. Instead, water collects and runs into the gutter- carrying every piece of trash and harmful chemical with it. If possible, avoid paving areas of your property that aren’t completely necessary. If you are replacing your driveway, consider alternate options that allow water to drain into the ground.

8. Do not litter

This seems easy enough, but people forget it all too often. Even small things like plastic wrappers eventually find their way into local waterways. This is harmful to wildlife and increases the ever growing microplastic issue in the world. Do your part and throw trash in the garbage can and recyclables in the recycling bin.

9. Organize your own beach clean-up event

Maybe you are a hands-on type of person and really want to make a difference. A great way to remove the litter that pollutes our waterways is to dispose of it properly. Gather some family members and friends and pick up litter along your local waterway, stream or shoreline, or even along city roads and roadways. You can even organize a larger, more prominent operation through social media and networking.

Keeping our waterways clean, safe, and beautiful enables us to be a part of keeping our waters alive.  By making more conscious decisions and altering choices in our lives, we can impact the ecosystem in a big way.    It’s our water – we need to take care of it. “Save water, and it will save you.”