On your next trip to the supermarket, on a rainy day, take a look at the parking lot as you walk into the store. Chances are you’ll see puddles, and even some water flowing across the parking lot. All that water is headed directly into one of the storm drains located throughout the parking lot.
Where the water goes from there depends on when the shopping center was built, as regulations and design standards for handling stormwater have changed over the years. However, regardless of the different types of piping, catch basins and ponds the water flows through, the water will either flow into the ground to filter into an underground aquifer, or be directed to the nearest creek, stream, or river.
Most people recognize storm drains when they see them, but they probably don’t realize how closely connected they are to the creeks, streams, and rivers that we enjoy for fishing and recreation. That close link is important to keep in mind when we’re thinking about how to dispose of household hazardous wastes.
Old or unwanted household products, such as motor oil, pesticides and herbicides, and leftover paints and stains should never be dumped into storm drains, ditches, or stormwater ponds. Once dumped, pollutants make the dizzying journey through the stormwater system during rain storms. These pollutants can make groundwater and surface water unhealthy for human contact and consumption, as well as harming the plants and animals living in our creeks, streams and rivers.
While people may not think they are doing anything wrong because “…there’s not enough oil to make it to the river…”, or “…I was told that latex paint isn’t a hazardous waste…” ANY material in a stormwater conveyance other than rain water is a pollutant.
For more information about safeguarding stormwater in Thurston County, please visit: www.co.thurston.wa.us/stormwater/.
To safely dispose of unwanted or old household chemicals, carefully transport them to HazoHouse, at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center, 2418 Hogum Bay Rd NE, Lacey 98516. HazoHouse is open Friday through Tuesday, from 8-5 pm, and accepts materials like used motor oil, hobby chemicals, oil-based paints, pesticides and herbicides, and pool chemicals. Latex (or acrylic) paint should be solidified to an oatmeal-like consistency, and disposed of with your trash.
Disposing of hazardous products properly is something we can do to help keep our environment safer for people, animals, and plants.