Education & Outreach

The City strives to inform and connect with citizens regarding stormwater issues to instill a general understanding and appreciation for our vital water resources that will hopefully reduce and eliminate pollution in our city’s and region’s waterways. The ultimate goal is to affect change through you! Because only you can change your decisions and behaviors that contribute to potentially negative impacts on water quality.

We work with local schools, community groups, HOA’s, local businesses and other environmental groups to provide education opportunities and awareness. 

Things you can do to help:

  • Be informed. Ask questions.
  • Learn where and how stormwater flows from your property to the streams and ultimately into Puget Sound. Storm Basin Education Map
  • Learn ways to prevent or eliminate pollution coming in contact with stormwater.
  • Talk to family, friends and neighbors about stormwater issues; pick up after pets, how to use and dispose of common household products containing chemicals and hazardous materials, fix vehicle fluid leaks, water conservation, natural gardening.
  • Be on the lookout for spills and stormwater pollution and report it! To report spills, stormwater pollution and illicit discharges call 253.208.7925.
  • Take ownership and interest in the water quality of the streams and health of the Puget Sound.

Car Washing
Washing vehicles at home can have negative effects to our surface water quality if not done properly. When you wash a car on a compacted surface, the dirty water containing soap, heavy metals, road grime, greases and oils can flow into storm drains. Most storm drains run directly into detention/retention ponds, creeks, streams, ponds, wetlands and into the Puget Sound. This polluted water destroys aquatic habitat and harms fish and other aquatic life. Even biodegradable soaps may be harmful. Here are some tips to consider:

  • When washing your car at home, find a grassy or natural area where the runoff will soak into the ground before it can reach the ditch, gutter or storm drain.
  • Conserve Water! Use a spray nozzle with flow control to minimize water volume and runoff.
  • Empty your wash buckets into sinks, green space or toilets.
  • Use a commercial car wash facility. Commercial systems not only conserve water, but also have designed systems that treat their wastewater.

Natural Yard Care
Protect the streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands and the Puget Sound by practicing natural yard care. While we love our lawns, gardens and yards, they require work and care to keep them looking great. We should care for them in ways that keep ourselves, children, pets and the environment protected from the runoff of pollutants. Pollutants from fertilizers, pesticides, pets, etc. flow from your property into storm drains where they make their way into our natural water areas. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Mow high
  • 2” – 3” of grass height allow the grass blades to shade each other and keep in moisture.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn (mulching). Mulching mowers are designed to be used without a bag. They chop up and blow clippings into the lawn where nutrients and moisture make the lawn healthier, saving the cost of fertilizer and water.
  • If you fertilize, use organic, “Slow-Release”. If you wish to fertilize twice, apply moderately in May, as the grass grows heavily in spring, then once in September when lawns are building root reserves for the next year.
  • Thick turf acts a barrier to water. Improve lawns by aerating - aerating encourages healthy lawn growth and requires less water during the summer. Over seed in fall or spring to reduce bare patches and replace older grasses.
  • Only water once a week. Lawns need only about one inch of water a week in summer, to stay green. For lawns that don’t get heavy use, you can let them go dormant, water once a month and they’ll bounce back in the fall.
  • Avoid using weed-and-feed on lawn. Weed-and-feed products spread an herbicide on the whole yard, not just the weeds. Improper application may cause water pollution and put kids, pets and wildlife at risk.
  • Reduce lawn size. Native trees and shrubs require less time and energy than lawn maintenance. There are many health benefits that come from designating a portion of the yard to grow a vegetable garden or fruit trees.

Fix Leaks on your Vehicles

  • Don't Drip and Drive - Fix your leak so that toxic oil and other vehicle fluids don't end up in puddles where your kids and pets play, or into streams and the Puget Sound.
  • Fixing vehicle leaks is good for the environment. Vehicles drip an estimated 7 million quarts of motor oil into the Puget Sound watershed each year. Oil and other petroleum products can harm wildlife and habitat. When it rains, stormawater runoff carries petroleum products to rivers, streams, lakes and the Puget Sound.
  • For more information visit fixcarleaks.org

Other Resources

Puget Sound Starts Here
Pierce County Conservation District
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
Pierce County Stormwater & Flooding