When something goes down a drain, it may seem like it disappears, but it doesn’t. All drains lead somewhere. There is no such thing as going “away.” Yes, you may flush your waste, you may watch as the unwanted material swirls down the drain but really, all of that material ends up somewhere. The where depends on the locations of the drain.
Do you have an on-site septic system in your back yard? The water from that system filters through the soil in the drainfield and helps replenish the groundwater system. Remember where your drinking water comes from? For most people in our county, it’s groundwater.
If your house’s drain is connected to LOTT Clean Water Alliance, the public sewer utility in Thurston County, then the waste ends up at LOTT for treatment. There, the sewage is treated, the water is reclaimed and it goes into Puget Sound or into the reclaimed water system.
Most storm drains go directly into a body of water without treatment and only a few direct water to a treatment facility.
It is up to all of us to help protect our drinking water, our beautiful lakes, rivers, streams and Puget Sound. Be careful about what goes down the drain and what runs off of your yard, driveway, and rooftop. These five tips can help!
1. Reduce or eliminate your use of toxic products – choose safe cleaners, art supplies, detergents and more.
2. Be aware of what goes into the toilet. Human waste and toilet paper are the only things that should be flushed, ever. This means NO wipes, feminine products, condoms, medications, undigested food, cotton swabs, etc.
3. Choose safe garden products – invest in organic fertilizers, weed tools, bird baths, mulch, and less hazardous garden products. What goes on the ground can end up in the ground or in the nearby surface water that our kids and pets love to splash in.
4. Dispose of used motor oil at one of the 33 locations that accept it for FREE.
5. Dry out latex paint and throw it in your trash. Unwanted oil based paints, solvents, and other unwanted household hazardous materials go to HazoHouse for free, safe disposal.
Remember that there is no such thing as going down a drain and “away.” It all goes somewhere and that somewhere could be anyone’s back yard. We are all connected and we are all responsible for protecting this beautiful place that we are lucky to call home.