NEWS | May 10, 2011

A few facts about water pollution

By Lawrence Galbraith, Joint Base Charleston Environmental Office

When the subject of water pollution comes up, most people think of the discharge of contaminants from the end of a pipe into surface waterways. Possible contaminants might include such things as oil, chemicals, hazardous waste or sewage. This is commonly known as point source pollution. In reality, pollution from storm water runoff is one of the leading sources of water pollution in the United States.

Storm water runoff occurs when rain flows over the land or impervious surfaces (parking lots, roads, sidewalks, driveways, etc.) and doesn't percolate into the ground. As the water flows over these surfaces, it picks up and accumulates debris, chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, dirt, yard waste and bacteria from animal wastes. This kind of contamination of surface waters is known as nonpoint source pollution.

Here are just a few things you can do to help prevent pollution to the groundwater and surface waterways of Joint Base Charleston and the surrounding communities:

- Don't sweep, blow or wash yard waste into storm drains.

- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and only in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

- Perform vehicle maintenance and repairs at the auto hobby shop, not in your carport or driveway.

- Report any spills of oil, gasoline or other chemicals immediately.

- Clean up your pet's waste.

- Never dump anything into a storm drain.

- Use phosphate free detergents.

The points of contact at Joint Base Charleston for water pollution issues are Charles Wannamaker on JB CHS - Air Base at 963-2705 and Larry Galbraith on JB CHS - Weapons Station at 764-4010.