Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff is what comes from your home when you park your car in your driveway or when you fertilize and use insecticide on your planets. It can also come from not cleaning up after your pet properly. Any sort of chemical or harmful substance that gets onto your lawn or driveway will run down with the rainwater into the stream and harm nearby rivers and streams. Most of this water doesn't even get filtered through and does immediate damage to the environment when it could have been prevented.

Stormwater runoff not only harms the environment around the lakes, rivers, and streams it runs into, but it hurts the wildlife that live there and your community too. Stormwater runoff can contaminate what would have been drinking water for your community and can cause water shortages.

The Federal Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act help Portland keep our water clean and safe for use and also helps the animals and environment safe from stormwater runoff. But they need your help too to keep everyone, including animals and the environment, safe and free from pollutants that can come from stormwater runoff.

Here are some things that you can do at home to help your community:
  • To keep the street from flooding rake leaves and debris at least one foot away from the curb and storm drains/catch basins in front of your house.
  •  If you notice that a catch basin is clogged in front of your house and you are unable to clear it yourself, call the city (the number for Portland is 503-823-1700) and they will come clean it out for you.
  • Make sure water directs away from your homes foundation and not onto your neighbor’s property
  • Never dump water over the side of a hill
  • Keep your gutters clean
  • Be sure to keep an eye on the trees on your property to make sure they aren't leaning and be sure that there are no cracks in the ground or pavement as this could indicate ground movement.
  • Recycle used oil, antifreeze, and other fluids properly, never dump them out in your lawn or on your driveway and be sure to check your car for oil leaks as well.
  • Don't wash your car at your house, take it to a carwash. The extra few bucks out of your pocket is nothing compared to how much you're helping the environment by not letting all of that soap and oil run off into a storm drain.
  • Use less fertilizers and pesticides in your lawn or switch to all organic products.
  • If you have a septic system keep it properly maintained. If it fails and breaks it will cause massive damage to the nearby lakes and streams.
  • Always clean up after your pet and dispose of the waste properly.
These are just a few things that can help in your community to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff. Any little bit helps!

For more info on this topic check out:

The Importance of Recycling Batteries

The Importance of Recycling Batteries

I never knew the importance of recycling batteries. Batteries include mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel which react with chemical electrolytes to produce power. Furthermore, they can  cause dangerous health and environmental consequencess because of the heavy metals the batteries contain. Also, when batteries burn completely they release heavy metals in the air. Therefore, these metals will enter the environment in the ash created during they were completely burnt. It is a fact that batteries that end up in a landfill can make chemicals and hevy metals into soil, groundwater, lakes and streams. Which would result into contaminating our soil and water.

Batteries can be divided into two broad categories: dry-cell and wet-cell batteries.The dry-cell type is used in most consumer electronics, and includes alkaline and carbon zinc batteries and lithium batteries.As for wet-cell batteries are typically found in cars, boats and motorcycles.However,both types of batteries can be recycled.The wet-cell batteries we use in our cars are the easiest to recycle and most retailers of car batteries are also authorized collection and recycling centers for them. On the other hand,a variety of places where dry-cell batteries can be recycled, including municipal sites and for-profit entities such as retailers and sanitation companies.
After doing a thorough study, I have figured out that Portland's Metro Recycling website provides extensive information about where you can recycle old household batteries around downtown Portland.

Dry-cell batteries

How does Polluted runoff effect me?

Many times Environmental issues are not taken seriously by a community until they directly effecting it's specific day to day living. It is very hard for someone to put forth the effort to make a change when the issue they see is miles away. With that being said, how concerned should we be about Industrial farm polluting our own communities in Oregon? The answer, much to the surprise of many, is that it effects us all more than we probably think.

In reports done last year Zollner Creek, which runs through the heart of the Willamette County, has been registered to have high counts of pollutants and pesticides which have continued to effect drinking water. This was among a group of seven streams that were also deemed to be effected immensely from pollution from various farm plants. These streams which have been polluted have accounted for over 15,000 miles of waterway throughout the middle of the Willamette County. This was not even accounting several more that were very close to also being considered over polluted as well. With this much runoff so close to so many communities in Oregon, there are several implications that come from it.

Nearby to the factories, there are very harmful gases that people can breath in and get sick from. These come from manure that begins to decompose and release toxins. Many of these gases, especially hydrogen sulfide, can get into the water streams nearby and even at low levels can cause serious health problems for people. The waste produced from animals can also be a health concern as it enters community water supply.

Many of these waterways are various communities main drinking water supply. By not doing our part to try and combat factory runoff and pollution we are turning a blind eye to this negative phenomena effecting many of our neighboring cities. With help from local city officials, the Department of Agriculture and citizens like you and me, we can really make a difference in awareness for a great cause.

for more on the topic please read:

Environment Runoff

Environmental Runoff

Every year we have the same problem, storms. When a storm comes, it brings storm water, which can attract debris, chemicals, dirt, and pollution. This flows into our sewer system or worse our lakes, beaches, and ponds. When storm water enters the sewer system, it brings untreated water, which contaminates drinking water. If we can’t have safe water to drink, this causes a big concern for our environment.

When, water is polluted it can have bad effects on plants, fish, animals, and us. Same goes for drinking water. Polluted drinking water can cause illness and raise the cost water treatment. 

Some solutions where you can help include: 
  • recycle
  • lawn care
  • septic system
  • auto care
  • and pet waste 
If everyone does their part, we can live in a better environment

We don't want to see this.

We want to see this.

Managing storm water is not an easy task. It can be expensive and time consuming. doing our part is important as finding solutions. We can do a lot by getting involved. Here is a list of ways to get involved: read the local newspaper and stay informed, we must keep public officials accountable, attend public hearings about town planning and new construction permits, volunteer, participate in contaminant monitoring, encourage testing water upstream of drinking water, and most importantly ask public officials questions.

Working with Diversity to Solve Environmental Issues with Factory Farming

   Diversity is something that every human faces at one point or another and can create a problem when looking at environmental issues. What is diversity and why does it sometimes cause such an issue with the environment? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines diversity as “The condition of having or being composed of different elements.” When we think about that definition we can look closely at social economic diversity for a possible answer. This can be areas like people who are very wealthy or the very poor. This will cause many factors when these groups think about the same issue. When looking at the topic of environmental runoff from farming we can see how these two groups might have different viewpoints on a topic like this. Let’s take a closer look at this environmental problem and try to understand the different viewpoints on the subject.

   If you have two different groups and ask them about an issue currently going on in the world like environmental runoff from factory farms you might possibly get a different prospective from them both. The reason it will differ is not only a different prospective but the wealthy might have some stronger viewpoints due to vested interest in factory farming then the poor. The very rich might be owners of the factories and make way too much money to care about the environmental runoff and the possible impacts that the farm is having on the environment. At the same time the lower income population might have a lot to say about the topic due to runoff of chemicals and all the pesticide that is being used causing environmental issues to their small communities. They might feel that no one is listening to their cries for help to end this environmental catastrophe that is affecting their health or their family’s health. Because of being in the lower income category they might not be able to up and move to get away from all the risks that the farms are creating for them. They in turn will blame the farm for the runoffs and might try and find ways to shut the farm down. Both groups in the end might blame each other for the current issue and both have strong valid reasons for standing their ground on the issue.

   It does not mean that one group is right or another is wrong there are just many different answers that might come up from both groups. This is what diversity is all about when talking about the environment. You can get a rich amount of answers from all walks of life and still get the same results you are looking for. Perhaps these two groups can come together to find a solution to this environmental problem. Factory farming creates so many problems that down the road the very rich will also be affected from all the issues being created.

   Diversity and the environment can be very tricky but must be celebrated by everyone. It is the many backgrounds and different statuses that makes the world such a great place to live. Being able to have an open debate about the environment and having so many rich backgrounds and viewpoints makes people not only think about the topic but might also bring people together to try and solve a problem. This is what the spring 2013 Capstone class will accomplish this semester. We will bring our diverse backgrounds and come together to find a solution to problem of environmental runoff from factory farms.