Renter’s Guide to Preventing Water Pollution

It seems like renters can’t do much to prevent water pollution.  This is not true. Everyone can help prevent water pollution everyday. Though it may require more investment of time in community activity, there are quite a few things a renter can do to help prevent water pollution. Ideally, renters and landlords work together to care for the property. Here is a compilation of what renters and landlords can do to prevent water pollution.

Renter Actions
This is a list of actions renters can take to preserve drinking water quality.
By jenny downing - glass half-full, CC BY 2.0,

  • ·       Stay informed. Annual drinking water quality reports are available from local water providers.
  • ·       Be in communication with your landlord and keep records of contacts and outcomes.
  • ·       Saving water saves money.
  • ·       Run only full loads of dishes or laundry.
  • ·       Take short showers instead of baths.
  • ·       Turn off the water when not rinsing off soap.
  • ·       If you wash dishes by hand use tubs, instead of washing under running water.
  • ·       Use phosphate free soaps and detergents.
  • ·       Use alternative cleansers such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. Youtube, eHow and other sites have information on how to make non-polluting cleansers and how much to use.
  • ·       Use soap and cleaning products free of antibacterial agents. Most of these products contain trichlosan, which is harmful to aquatic life. Ultimately, regular soap and water do the job just as effectively.
  • ·       Use the minimum amount of soap, detergent or cleaning product to get the job done.
  • ·       While brushing teeth or shaving, turn off the tap. Turn it back on to clean the brush or razor.
  • ·       Pay attention drips and leaks. Fix any as soon as possible to prevent a big water bill later.
  • ·       Turn down the thermostat on your water heater, if accessible.
  • ·       Use water filtration to bring up water quality, but know that filters don’t work on some pollutants, like lead.
  • ·       Do not dump unwanted or out-of-date medicines down the toilet or drain. Your medical provider may be able to take these safely and legally off your hands or direct you to the appropriate service.
  • ·       Use a can or jar to collect cooking fats, oils, and grease and dispose of this in the trash, instead of pouring these down the drain when hot.
  • ·       Pick up after your pet.
  • ·       Sweeping instead of hosing down a parking space prevents polluted runoff.
  • ·       Wash your vehicles on or near the grassy or graveled areas so soapy water soaks into the ground. All soaps are toxic to fish and wildlife, including the biodegradable ones.
  • ·       Do not dump chemicals down drains, follow the disposal instructions on the container or contact a local waste management facility to learn what to do. Laws vary by state and country.
  • ·       Make sure your trash containers close completely and do not leak.

  • Encourage the Landlord Actions
  • This is a list of actions renters can encourage their landlords to do or landlords can start doing on their own.
  • ·       Know what the pipes are made of and know that they may need to be replaced over time. Copper and lead pipes lower the quality of water being distributed in your buildings.
  • ·       Install showerheads that regulate flow.
  • ·       Install low flow and high efficiency toilets.
  • ·       Install sink aerators.
  • ·       Schedule regular maintenance.
  • ·       Turn down the thermostat on the water heater.
  • ·       Use native plants in landscaping.
  • ·       Consider planting a water garden instead of traditional landscaping.
  • ·       Use mulch around plants to avoid evaporation and minimize weeds.
  • ·       Practice regular maintenance of landscape and rental waterworks.
  • ·       Practice water conservation even when there is not a drought, by water every 2-3 days during times of low evaporation. Which are early morning or late evening.
  • ·       Use kitty litter to soak up oil leaks in parking lots.
  • ·       Dispose of soaked up liquids in a Household Toxins Facility. The closest may be found by specifying city or county.
  • ·       Label all storm drains on the property with “No Dumping” signs.
  • ·       Put spill cleanup procedures into place and make sure staff know what to do.

·       Ensure dumpsters do not leak and close easily so that garbage is not scattered by wind or wildlife.
Finally, everyone can be more water aware and encourage others to be water aware. Be politically and environmentally literate and take part in the lawmaking process. Drinking water quality affects everyone in a community for better or worse. So, it is very important take action for yourself, your family, and your community.