Natural Resources Outreach
Public Works Department
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
You can do a lot of small, practical things to make a big difference in protecting Salem’s streams and rivers.
Practical Areas Where You Can Help
Select one or more areas of concern and actions you can take to reduce pollution in Salem’s streams and rivers.
Ditches and most storm drains do not drain into wastewater treatment facilities. In Salem, they flow directly into local creeks and the Willamette River. Runoff from streets, driveways, and lawns can carry a nasty cocktail; soil, pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste, oil, antifreeze, and soaps can be delivered untreated into waterways.
Landscape Care and Lawns
Pesticides and herbicides used in landscaping can be toxic to both you and the environment. Improper use of pesticides and fertilizers along with over-watering delivers these chemicals to creeks via storm drains. A healthy landscape resists disease, pests, drought, and weeds. By adopting some new methods, you can grow a healthy lawn and garden and reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals and polluted runoff.
Cars are a major source of water pollution in urban areas. In addition to causing air pollution, they leak oil, antifreeze, and other fluids onto roads and driveways. These fluids are then washed directly into creeks via storm drains. By properly maintaining cars and reducing their use, everyone can protect streams from this toxic runoff.
Pets and Animal Waste
Pet and animal waste is often overlooked, yet it poses a serious risk to water quality. Waste from dogs, cats, and waterfowl is a major problem. Droppings can contain up to three million bacteria, including Giardia, E. coli, roundworms, and tapeworms, all of which can be transmitted to humans and cause disease. In addition to taking the pledge, you can become a Capital Canine Club member.
In Western Oregon, the water supply seems limitless, but clean drinking water is still a valuable commodity. There are many ways to help conserve water in your own home. Small behavioral changes, such as retrofitting your home with low-flow fixtures, can save hundreds of gallons of drinking water each year. By reducing your water consumption, you leave water in the river for fish and recreation, and you save money on your water bill.
Recycling, Packaging, and Garbage
Recycling is great, but reducing waste in the first place is an even better way to keep a lid on trash. Buying fewer products and limiting the use of heavily packaged products means fewer natural resources like water and trees are consumed.