Protect New Jersey’s watersheds

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Every acre of New Jersey is within one of the 20 watershed areas, which means all lands drain into a lake, river or stream. New Jersey American Water is offering simple actions customers can take to keep the watersheds clean and healthy while protecting against pollution.

“As water travels over the land’s surface through farm fields, forests, lawns and city streets — it is impacted by what happens in the watershed,” Greer Thacker, water quality and environmental compliance specialist at New Jersey American Water’s Raritan-Millstone Water Treatment Plant in Bridgewater, said in a press release. “In New Jersey, many waterways serve as sources of community drinking water supplies. It is essential that we all take steps to safeguard and improve this precious natural resource. People may not realize that their everyday actions may have an impact on the water we take for granted.”

NJAW advises New Jersey residents to:

  • Properly dispose of household chemicals. Never pour chemicals or oil down the drain, toilet, storm drains or on the ground.
  • Prevent chemicals from reaching storm drains. Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of using a hose. Direct downspouts onto lawns and away from paved surfaces — or add a rain barrel to save water for later use.
  • Use commercial car washes. If you wash your vehicle at home, park it on the grass first, so that the detergent doesn’t run off into storm drains.
  • Check your car for leaks and recycle used motor oil. Never pour it on the ground or into a storm drain.
  • Service your septic system. Have your septic tank pumped and septic system inspected regularly — usually every three to five years.
  • Clean up after your pets. Animal waste may contain harmful organisms such as giardia, salmonella and E. coli. Never put animal waste, bagged or otherwise, down the storm drain.
  • Select nontoxic or less toxic household cleaning products. Use phosphate-free detergents.
  • Limit the use of fertilizers and avoid pesticides. Consider natural alternatives.
  • Buffer streams. If there is a stream on your property provide a natural buffer of native trees, shrubs and plants along its banks to filter stormwater runoff. Plant grass on the bare spots in your yard.
  • If you see something, say something. Report any spills, illegal dumping or suspicious activity to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at 1-877-927-6337.

“When looking holistically at New Jersey’s water supply, managing watershed conditions should be important to everyone because we all live on the land, we all live in a watershed. The right decisions can help protect these important water resources,” Thacker said.