Everyone in our region who has an interest in fishing, boating, swimming, clamming, birdwatching, hunting, scuba diving, eating healthy fresh and salt water fish, and in contributing to a healthier ecosystem, should be interested in this topic.

The terms point and non-point water pollution refer to the same end result by different means. Point pollution can be traced to a specific site, such as a toxic waste dump site or outfall pipes from factories, sewage treatment facilities, power plant cooling systems or other direct waste generating sources. This type of pollution has been addressed heavily since the 1970s in part because it is the most easily traced and identified.

However, non-point source pollution comes from diverse origins, but still winds up in our streams, aquifers, lakes, bays and ocean. Every chemical or waste product dumped, washed or carried by stormwater runoff into storm sewers, such as fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, motor oil, soaps, animal waste, etc., all contaminate in this way.

We can all take some blame or at least see where these factors come into play. We become better citizens when we realize that storm drains actually go directly into waterways, where it can affect the fish, wildlife and people downstream. There is no treatment, filtering or other disconnection from the real world. Once again, there is no “away." With more and more impermeable asphalt, concrete, compacted soil and non-porous paving surfaces, we must be more vigilant about maintenance, toxicity and containment of waste.

The effects of all these types of point and non-point source pollution are the poisoning of fish and other aquatic life by sedimentation, toxicity, eutrophication, and bio-accumulation of contaminants and micro-particles from plastic degradation, air pollution, etc., in our seafood, animals and vegetation.

We must not support the weakening of protection from point and non-point source pollution. We must go further and take responsibility for our individual roles in non-point source pollution. We can use less toxic chemicals in our daily lives, use less or no fertilizer or pesticides on our lawns, use rain barrels or other devices. We can replace some lawn area with rain gardens, vegetable gardens, shrubs, trees and flower beds containing native plants. In this way, we can take charge of the water that falls on or is generated on our own properties, for the benefit of all.

Sustainable Downbeach is working toward creating a healthier, friendlier community with an eye on protecting the environment. For information or to get involved see Sustainable Downbeach on Facebook.

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Contact: 609-601-5196


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