Help Your Local Waterways

Opportunities to Get Involved and Improve Water Quality in Your Pond and Throughout the County
There are many ways you can improve the quality of your neighborhood pond. By doing so, you not only enhance the beauty and value of your own property, but because the water leaving your pond links to the County-wide drainage system, you are also improving water quality downstream. There are community activities to get involved with that help keep County-wide surface waters and beaches clean as well.

Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program in Collier County was re-started in 2002 with partial funding by the State of Florida and with the sponsorship of the University Extension Service. The program looks for commitment from neighborhood groups in order to affect community landscapes as well as individual properties within the neighborhood. Plant selection and placement decisions consider such attributes as color and beauty, water usage and need for fertilizer and pesticides, attraction by birds and other wildlife, and maintenance requirements. For more information, contact the Collier County University Extension Service at 353-4244

Stormwater Inlet Marking Program – Storm sewers in Collier County are not connected to wastewater treatment plants. Water from neighborhood storm sewers flows directly into lakes and eventually into canals and estuaries. It is important to caution people that pollutants, even yard clippings, should not enter the stormwater collection system. The inlet marking program relies on volunteers to affix caution plaques with materials and instructions supplied to them. This is a great project for youth and civic groups. Neighborhoods and HOAs can benefit by preventing the natural aging process of their ponds, reducing long-term operating costs. Contact Steve Preston at 239-252-5862.

Adopt-A-Road Program in Collier County started in 1989 and is modeled after the program started in Texas two years earlier. The program is managed by the Collier County Road Maintenance Department, growing steadily to now include 80 sponsoring groups that gather trash and other potentially more harmful pollutants from 207 miles of roadway, and almost double that amount of miles in swales lining each side of the road. The trash is bagged up, with larger debris piled near roadside stations. From there, County maintenance crews take it to the landfill. In the year 2000 an average of 50 tons of trash per month was prevented from entering the stormwater collection system via swales along these roadsides. As part of the program, signs are posted along adopted roadway segments recognizing the sponsor. For more information, read more on the Adopt-a-Road web pages or call the Collier County Road Maintenance Department at 239-252-8924 for becoming a sponsor group.

Coastal Clean-Up and Great American Clean-Up / Bay Days
Collier County participates in the International Coastal Cleanup along with over 900 other sites in Florida. The annual event, internationally coordinated by The Ocean Conservancy, is the oldest and largest beach and waterway cleanup with data collection in the world. The mission is to remove the debris and collect information on the amount and sources of the debris with a volunteer work force. The exercise serves to heighten public awareness of the everyday activities and behaviors that contribute to the litter problem. For several years annual events have been organized and sponsored in Collier County by Keep Collier Beautiful, a non-profit organization with funding from State grants and from the County Recycling program. Coastal Clean-up happens every September, and Bay Days every April. To learn more about these great program and others organized by Keep Collier Beautiful, visit their website.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program offers County residents a way to properly dispose of hazardous waste generated by household use without charge. You are encouraged to take advantage of this service and tell others, so that more waste is controlled and less waste will enter the storm sewers. Collier County’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program is run by the Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD). For more information call 239-252-2508, or visit their website.

Listen for television and radio public service announcements that identify what household products are hazardous and the locations and hours of operation of regular collection centers and special collection events.
“Waste Round-up” events are held semi-annually that expand the normal collection sites to several drop-off-spots closer to neighborhoods, in an effort to increase citizen participation.

Posters and brochures are available, illustrating which hazardous wastes may be in the home and provide addresses of collection facilities, and phone numbers and website addresses that can be used to get more information. Posting this information in your community center will help spread the word.

Yard Waste Collection and Composting Program – In an effort to keep biomass from becoming a stormwater pollutant, Collier County Solid Waste Management Department gives community presentations on composting as part of the Master Gardeners program sessions sponsored by the University Extension Service. To learn more about the SWMD Yard Waste Collection and Composting programs and ways to control yard waste in your neighborhood, visit the SWMD website or call them at 239-252-2508.

Washing vehicles can be a source of pollution to the storm sewer system and surface water bodies. Oil, grease asbestos, coolant, brake fluid, trace metals and grit are carried in the wash water, especially in mechanized carwashes that rinse the undercarriage.

Some carwashes recycle some of their wash water, some have a complete recycle system that treats and reuses 100% of their water in a closed system. Choosing a closed system carwash for the company fleet will reward those establishments that have gone the extra mile to go easy on the environment.
If you wash vehicles by hand, doing so in the grass or an area that drains to a grass area instead of into a storm inlet is the best choice. The grass and soil are very efficient at removing pollutants and also allows wash water to percolate back into the ground.

 
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Photography courtesy of Rhys Logan.