August is National Water Quality Month — one month out of the year that highlights the importance in which water plays in our lives every day. We all depend on access to clean drinking water, but water quality also impacts nearly every other facet of life, from the health of the ecosystems that we live within and share with wildlife, to the success of working farms and fisheries that we depend on for food, recreation, and so much more. The Cathance, Androscoggin, and Muddy Rivers flow through Brunswick, Topsham, and Bowdoin and are three of the six rivers that empty into Merrymeeting Bay. The Lower Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay together comprise the Kennebec Estuary, one of Maine’s most significant natural areas. The Kennebec Estuary is the second largest estuary on the East coast, containing 20 percent of Maine’s tidal marshes and providing critical habitat for a range of fish, waterfowl, and other species.
Conservation plays a significant role in protecting and maintaining water quality by buffering rivers and bays from runoff and pollution, as well as conserving critical habitat and protecting water access.
9 Things You Can Do at Home to Protect Your Water
- Wash your car at a car wash: Even though it might cost more than washing your car at home, taking your car to a car wash saves water and prevents toxic chemicals from being flushed down your storm drains that eventually empty into our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans Professional car washes are legally required to drain into sewer systems so that the water can be treated before being re-used.
- Pick up after your pet: Animal waste is full of nitrogen which can remove oxygen from the water leaving it completely unusable for aquatic life.
- Don’t hose down your driveway, use a broom.
- Don’t use fertilizer made with phosphorus: After heavy rainfall or watering, these chemicals can leak into nearby groundwater sources. Try using organic materials or waiting for drier weather if you absolutely need to use lawn care products.
- Do not flush expired or unwanted medication down the toilet: These products have toxic chemicals that should not be flushed down the drain.
- Take used oil or antifreeze to a service station or recycling center.
- Avoid using antibacterial soaps or cleaning products in your drain as they are also toxic to marine life.
- Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater: Installing a rain barrel will not only save you money, but can also be used for watering your lawn or washing your car.
- Help BTLT continue to conserve and protect our local shorelines by donating today!