How Can I Help?

Simply by going about your daily routines—using cleaning products, walking the dog—you might be contributing to the pollution of our already struggling waterways. When thinking about cleaning up our waters it can seem like a very daunting task. Thankfully,  there are a few incredibly easy things you can do as an individual, as a neighborhood, or as a community to do YOUR part in cleaning our lakes, rivers, and streams. Here are some examples:

  • Recycling items and properly disposing of items that cannot be recycled keeps them from making their way to rivers and lakes. Even cigarette butts have a dramatic environmental effect when people drop them on the ground at a beach or riverside area.
  • Eliminating or minimizing your use of harsh chemicals provides the surest way to protect  waters from chemicals. When chemicals leach into a body of water, they can devastate ecosystems. Nitrogen and phosphorus, commonly used in fertilizers, lead to a surge in algae growth when they enter a water body, killing off existing aquatic life, for example.
  • Proper disposal of hazardous materials such as paints, motor oil and pharmaceuticals keeps them out of the water supply. Check out our Hazardous Waste page to find out how to get rid of these items.
  • Water that runs down streets after rainfall, or after you wash your car with a hose, carries toxins from streets and yards that eventually may reach waterways. Sweep rather than hose down your driveway if you need to get rid of debris. When washing your car, use a bucket instead of a hose. Having porous outdoor surfaces like gravel, as well as gardens, also minimizes runoff. Check out this program to "Adopt-a-Storm Drain".
  • Pick up your pet's waste. You're not just being a good neighbor. Scooping up pet waste keeps harmful bacteria from running into storm drains and water supplies. 

Reuse Water

Design a home rainwater capture system and gray-water reuse system to help maximize your home water use. A basic rainwater system channels water from gutters into a collection barrel. A gray-water system designed and installed by professionals recirculates water through your home in non-contaminating ways. For example, water used for showers or washing dishes would always be fresh and clean, but after it has been used, it may be channeled to the toilet and flushed.

Participate in Clean-up Efforts

Take part in local clean-up days to help keep trash out of the water. Clean up litter along a lake, river, stream or beach, or along city streets or highways. If you have children, use this opportunity to teach them how litter thrown into the street can eventually harm our waters. Better yet, organize a clean-up day for a school or church group so everyone can work and learn together.

Seal Unused Wells

Watch this video and learn how old, unused wells could contaminate our groundwater.

Become a Water Quality Certified Farm

Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years.

Through this program, certified producers receive:

  • Regulatory certainty: certified producers are deemed to be in compliance with any new water quality rules or laws during the period of certification

  • Recognition: certified producers may use their status to promote their business as protective of water quality

  • Priority for technical assistance: producers seeking certification can obtain specially designated technical and financial assistance to implement practices that promote water quality 

Through this program, the public receives:

  • Assurance that certified producers are using conservation  practices to protect Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams