Water pollution is usually caused by human activities. Pesticide and herbicide run-off from agricultural or personal use or illegal dumping of chemicals, oils, or waste can leak and contaminate the water. Developed areas have a higher proportion of impervious surfaces (asphalt, concrete, etc) that prevent the rainwater from seeping into the ground. As the volume of stormwater run-off increases, so does the amount of pollutants that are carried away.
Florida's high rainfall contributes to contamination as the water runs off the land surface (a process known as stormwater run-off) and excess contaminants (pesticides, fertilizers, oils, greases, etc) are picked up and carried away. This water percolates into the soil, bringing the contamination with it.
What is percolation?
Percolation is the downward flow or movement of water through the soil until it reaches the water table and becomes groundwater. Some contaminants are filtered by the soil. However, underground water in Florida is especially vulnerable to contamination because of it's well-drained soils (e.g. sand) that does not filter all of the contaminants out.
Preventing water pollution begins at home!
How you can help
Reduce pesticide and fertilizer use - Over-applying yard chemicals results in them washing away with rain and sprinkler use. Eventually, because of the path of stormwater run-off, these chemicals end up in natural lands and wetlands. If pesticides must be used, be sure to follow the application directions on the labels and protect children and pets from exposure.
Only rain down the street drain! - anything that goes down stormwater drain is usually not treated at a wastewater plant before being discharged. Stormwater and runoff can flow directly into local ponds, lakes, and rivers. Be sure to keep oil, household chemicals, and yard waste out of the drain.
Pick up after your pets - this will reduce bacterial and nutrient pollution in groundwater.
Clean up spills and leaks - instead of hosing it down, spread cat litter over the spill (such as oil), sweep it up, and dispose of it in the garbage. Dispose of unwanted chemicals or used containers at the Toxic Round Up Corral drop-off site:
5125 NE 63rd AVE
Gainesville, FL 32609