peopleDo you think of yourself as a POLLUTER?

Of course not.

Yet we have seen that actions taken anywhere within the watershed can and do affect the water quality of a stream. All of us are responsible for polluting or protecting our streams.

The 33,000 miles of flowing water in Maine, most of which are small streams, need us, all of us, to act as stewards. Every rivulet, stream, or brook that runs across our land or flows down the hill beyond our home contributes to the total water supply.

If you live in the watershed of a stream (and who doesn't?), keep pollutants out of the water supply.

Conserve water to help ensure that wastewater does not overburden your septic system or treatment plant.

Maintain your septic system in good working order so sewage does not leak into our streams.

Wash cars and laundry with phosphate-free detergents.

Make sure your car is not dripping grease or oil onto driveways, roads, or parking lots.

Control road and driveway runoff with proper ditching and grass cover.

Use recycling centers, not your septic system, to dispose of household toxic wastes_paints, solvents, etc.

If a stream (ditch, gully, or swale) runs through your property, minimize soil erosion and runoff.

Keep a buffer strip of trees and shrubs along the water's edge. Strips as little as 75' wide help to control runoff of pollutants and erosion, but some wildlife need 250' or more on both sides.

Plant a combination of native deep-rooted, woody vegetation and shallow-rooted shrubs and grasses i.e., winterberry, cranberry bush, elderberry, red osier, silky dogwood, chokeberry, and mountain ash.

Use few or no chemicals on your lawn. Get the soil analyzed to determine whether fertilizer is needed.

Control run-off. Don't make ditches that flow directly into a stream. Instead, direct runoff into a grassy swale or level area. Create sufficient ditch turn-outs.

Restrict logging or clearing of trees and vegetation to areas well away from stream's edge.

During construction, use hay bales and silt fences to minimize siltation.

On disturbed sites, replant grasses and shrubs and cover with mulch as soon as possible.

Keep grazing animals away from the water's edge.

Leave naturally fallen trees in a stream to shelter aquatic life.

Don't dam or pump dry a small brook.

Don't allow ATV's, construction equipment, or skidders to cut across streams.

Store manure and other fertilizers on a dry level site well away from stream. Spread manure conservatively, only in growing season; keep it at least 100' from shore.

Community groups can take a long-term role in protecting and monitoring the health of a stream.

Make sure there are municipal programs that recycle household wastes, inspect for leaky storage tanks, and impose strict penalties for "midnight dumping", the illegal disposal of industrial wastes.

Make a watershed survey of your stream to pinpoint pollution sources and suggest remedies.

Organize a stream litter clean-up weekend with neighbors, Scouts, and school groups.

Develop a water quality monitoring program.

Join your town's Comprehensive Planning or Implementation Committee.

Become an advocate for your waterways at the town and state level.

Anyone who is interested in streams can ask for further information from:

  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection
    State House Station #17
    Augusta, ME 04333
    (207)287-3901 Bureau of Water Quality
    (207)287-2111 Bureau of Land Quality
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
    WQE 425 JFK Building
    Boston, MA 02203
    (617) 565-4424
    Fax (617) 565-4940