Don’t let local water quality go down the drain

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- This summer, Peterson Air Force Base experienced abnormally high rain fall totals. In terms of water quality, this means storm water runoff is potentially carrying various pollutants to storm drains, local creeks, streams and rivers. Storm water is rainwater (and melted snow) that runs off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites. Under natural conditions, storm water is absorbed into the ground, where it is filtered and ultimately replenishes aquifers or slowly flows through forests and meadows into streams and rivers.

In developed areas around Peterson, however, impervious surfaces such as pavement and building roofs prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs rapidly into storm drains, sewer systems and drainage ditches. The resulting rush of storm water discharge can cause downstream flooding and erode creek or stream banks. In addition, the bacteria and other pollutants not filtered from storm water can contaminate watersheds.

The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron Asset Management Flight encourages everyone who lives and works on the installation to take the following pollution prevention measures to ensure cleaner water and a healthier environment.

Vehicle Maintenance and Washing
Catch any fluid leaks using a drip pan

Clean up spills with absorbents like cat litter, then dispose of them properly. Don't use the hose to wash spills into storm drains.

Wash vehicles at a commercial or coin operated car wash where wash water is treated and recycled. When washing cars at home, use soap and detailing products with care and keep these products from entering storm drains by washing vehicles in grassy areas.

Gardening and Landscaping
Use only the amount of gardening chemicals necessary and always follow manufacturers recommended minimum application rates. Check out "green" gardening chemicals at local retailers and consider alternative methods.

Use only the water needed. Check sprinklers to ensure water - and money - are not wasted by spraying the sidewalk.

Cover stockpiles of dirt or mulch before it rains or gets windy.

Driveways and Sidewalks
Sweep driveways and sidewalks rather than hosing them down. Dispose of the waste in trash bins. 

Illegal Dumping
Dumping waste into the storm drain is illegal. To confidentially report any illegal or unacceptable dumping, contact the Civil Engineer Squadron, Asset Management Flight at 556-7088.

Properly dispose of household generated hazardous materials such as paints, paint thinners, pesticides, oil and fuel additives, starter fluids, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs and solvents at the El Paso County Household Hazardous Materials Facility, located at 3255 Akers Dr. in Colorado Springs; call 520-7878 for information.

For information about the Peterson's storm water program, call 556-7088.