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Individuals & Families

Storm water is everybody’s business!

When it rains, water is naturally absorbed into the ground, adding to Oahu’s water supply. This is a good thing. But when it rains so much or so fast that the ground cannot absorb it all (like a kitchen sponge full of water), the excess rainwater flows over the surface of the ground until it finds its way to the ocean through streams and the storm drain system. That rain water is called “storm water runoff.”

Storm water runoff itself does not usually harm the environment. However, impervious surfaces that do not allow the water to go into the ground, like driveways, sidewalks, and streets, can increase the amount and intensity of storm water runoff. The water flows across these surfaces instead of soaking into the ground and can cause flooding and erosion problems. In addition, these impervious surfaces often accumulate urban pollutants faster than natural areas. The typical urban pollutants include oil, grease, trace metals, excessive nutrients, and other dangerous chemicals. Storm water runoff washes these pollutants off the impervious surfaces and carries them into our storm drains, streams and the ocean, where they affect water quality.

Residents

Do you spend a lot of time at home? Did you know that staying home doing chores and housework can have an impact on water pollution?

When we use cleaning chemicals outside, rain can wash it down into the storm drain. You may not use a lot of chemicals by yourself, but 500,000 residents using petroleum-based cleaners, ammonia, and other chemicals can cause a problem when it starts to rain. Since storm drains flow directly into the ocean, those chemicals we use at home can end up polluting our ocean. Even things we do inside our home, like cooking and using the bathroom can lead to storm water pollution. Click on the button below to download A Resident’s Guide to Understanding Storm Water, or browse the following tips.

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Refrain from dumping used cooking oil or grease down your kitchen drain in order to prevent sewer line breaks and storm water pollution.Dispose of oil and grease responsibly
Never dump used cooking oil or grease down your kitchen drain. It can clog our sewer lines, causing breaks, which then cause sewage to flow into the ocean.
Check your septic tank regularly to prevent harmful bacteria and viruses from entering the soil and causing storm water pollution.Check your septic tank
Be sure to regularly check your septic tank if you have one. Septic systems can release harmful bacteria and viruses into the soil. When it rains, the water can pick it up and send it straight into the ocean.
Don’t pour household products that contain chemicals on the ground, into roadway gutters or into storm drains.Dispose of household products safely
Properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil and other auto fluids. Don’t pour them on the ground, into roadway gutters, or into storm drains.
Properly dispose of extra paint cans, which rust and leak, to prevent storm water pollution.Don’t stock up on paint
Don’t store paint outside of the house. The cans can easily rust and leak. Instead, avoid the urge to stock-up on excess paint. It will save you money and help prevent water pollution.
Wipe up oil spills and gunk from your garage or driveway to prevent it from entering the storm drain and causing storm water pollution.Wipe up spills
Don’t use water to clean your garage and driveway. When you use cleaners to get the oil and gunk off your driveway, garage, or carport floor, wipe it up. If you hose it down your driveway, you’re sending the cleaner chemical and oils straight into the storm drain where it goes right to the ocean.

Gardening

Do you enjoy gardening? Did you know that just going outside to work on your garden can have an impact on water pollution?

When you use chemicals on your lawn or on your plants, rain can wash it down into the storm drain. You may not use a lot of chemicals, but 500,000 residents fertilizing their lawn on Saturday can cause a problem when it rains on Sunday morning. Since storm drains flow directly into the ocean, the chemicals that we use on our lawn can end up polluting our ocean.

Here are some home gardening tips to prevent storm water pollution:

Use pesticides only as needed to prevent storm water pollution.Use chemicals as needed
Use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers only as needed. This will save you money and help reduce the chances of rain washing it down the storm drain.
Gardening tips for reducing storm water pollutionDispose of grass clippings
After mowing your lawn, pick up the grass clippings and throw them in the trash so the rain does not send them into the storm drain. Fertilizers and grass clippings can cause algae blooms, which use up all the oxygen in the water. This harms fish, coral and stream life because they cannot survive in water with low oxygen levels.
Use rain barrels to collect rainwater from rooftops and prevent storm water pollution.Collect rainwater in barrels
Use rain barrels to collect rainwater from rooftops in mosquito-proof containers. The water can be used later on lawn or garden areas. This also prevents gravel and oil from your roof from getting into the storm drain system.
Native plants such as morning glory naturally filter sediment.Plant native foliage
When you’re planning out your garden, design areas with native plants to provide natural places for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. Rain from the rooftop or paved areas can be diverted into these areas rather than into storm drains.
Native plants such as hibiscus naturally filter sediment.Trap sediment with native foliage
Use native grass or plants along the edge of roadways or streams. When it rains, these plants work well to trap any excess chemicals or dirt in the rainwater as it flows across driveways and streets, ensuring that less of these harmful substances are flushed into our ocean.

Car Care Tips

How many cars do you have in your household? Did you know that something as simple as washing your car can pollute the ocean?

When you allow your car wash water to flow down your driveway and into the street, that dirty water could flow into a storm drain! And we all know that storm drains flow directly into the ocean. Untreated!

So, if the wash water contains detergent and gunk from your car or truck, guess what you can expect to find floating around in the ocean? Not only does it pollute the water, but the of black stuff that washes off your car can contain compounds of harmful heavy metals like lead and mercury. These flow into our streams and oceans, affecting aquatic life. Heavy metals concentrated in fish like tuna are particularly harmful to pregnant women and infants.

Here are some car care tips to prevent storm water pollution:

Refrain from dumping automotive fluids into storm drains or letting it run down the street where the rain could wash it down the storm drain. Refrain from dumping auto fluids
Do not dump automotive fluids (e.g., antifreeze, brake fluid) into storm drains or let it run down the street where the rain could wash it down the storm drain. That would have the same result as dumping the materials directly into our oceans!
If your car is leaking fluids, try to get it fixed as soon as possible to prevent storm water pollution.Fix leaks quickly
If your car is leaking fluids, try to get it fixed as soon as possible to prevent excessive leakage on the streets and in your driveway, where rain can wash it down the storm drains.
Take your old auto batteries to the City Convenience Center nearest you to prevent chemical leaks and to prevent storm water pollution.Dispose of auto batteries responsibly
Give your old auto batteries to the dealer when purchasing new ones or take them to the City Convenience Center nearest you. Batteries contain strong harmful chemicals that could hurt children who might touch or play with them. Old or damaged batteries can easily leak these harmful chemicals onto the ground to be washed into the ocean after a storm.
When changing oil, use an oil change box to absorb all of the dirty oil and throw it away in the trash to prevent storm water pollution.Refrain from dumping oil
When changing oil, use an oil change box to absorb all of the dirty oil and throw it away in the trash.
If you don't have an oil change box, pour the oil into a plastic bag with plenty of absorbent material to prevent storm water pollution. width=Dispose of oil responsibly
No oil change box? Just pour it into a plastic bag with plenty of absorbent material to soak it up, then seal the bag and toss it in with the rest of your trash. Motor oil contains many harmful metals that damage our reefs and favorite swimming areas.
Consider having your oil changed at a service station to prevent storm water pollution.Have your oil changed professionally
Don’t want to mess with the used oil? Consider having your oil changed at a service station.
Take your car to a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its waste water to prevent storm water pollution.Don’t wash your car on your driveway
Consider taking your car to a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its waste water, or wash your car on grass so the water is filtered into the ground.

Home Improvements

Thinking about doing some home improvements? Did you know that home construction work can have an impact on water pollution?

When the contractor comes to dig up the backyard to build that extension you always wanted, it’s possible that dirt, silt, oils and chemicals could become exposed. When it rains, the water carries these pollutants into the storm drains and out to the ocean where it can harm our reefs and pollute our waters.

Here are some construction tips to prevent storm water pollution:

Work with your contractor to reduce the amount of dirt that is excavated to prevent storm water pollution.Reduce excavated dirt
If possible, work with your contractor to reduce the amount of dirt that is excavated. It will save you money and prevent the dirt from polluting the ocean.
Get your landscaping contractor onboard as soon as possible to prevent loose dirt from polluting storm water.Get landscaping done quickly
If you plan to have landscaping, try to get the landscaping contractor in as soon as possible to prevent dirt from being exposed to the rain for too long.
Ask your contractor about putting in permeable pavement to prevent storm water pollution.Install permeable pavement
Ask your contractor about putting in permeable pavement wherever possible. This will allow more rainwater to soak into the ground and recharge our aquifers rather than draining into our streams and oceans.
If taking on a DIY home improvement project, be sure to learn about required permits and best management practices (BMPs) to prevent storm water pollution.Follow BMPs
If you decide to do-it-yourself rather than hire a contractor, educate yourself on the types of permits that are required. Best management practices (BMPs) should be used to prevent or treat the water that flows out of your yard and into the storm drains.

Agriculture

Do you have livestock on your property or use the backyard to grow fruit trees and other produce? Did you know that you could be polluting in Hawaii’s waters?

Large agricultural areas provide lots of space to raise livestock. But many large areas also include streams. Livestock or wild animals that walk in streams can contaminate the water with bacteria, making it unsafe for human contact. In addition, when it rains, large agricultural lots often times drain out to roadways, where water laden with dirt, fertilizers, and other chemicals can enter storm drains and flow directly to the ocean.
Click on the button below to download An Agricultural/Landscaping Guide to Understanding Storm Water, or browse the following tips to prevent storm water pollution.

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Keep livestock away from stream banks and provide a source of water away from natural waterways in order to prevent storm water pollution.Keep animals away from streams
If you own livestock, keep them away from stream banks and provide a source of water away from natural waterways.
Fertilizers, manure and vegetative material can cause algae blooms when washed into streams by the rain, harming fish, coral and stream life.Keep fertilizers and vegetation out of streams
Store and apply manure and other fertilizers away from streams. When mowing or harvesting, properly dispose of vegetative material. Fertilizers and vegetative material can cause algae blooms, which use up all the oxygen in the water. This harms fish, coral and stream life because they cannot survive in water with low oxygen levels.
Plant native vegetation along stream banks to help prevent livestock and excess fertilizers, chemicals and dirt from entering the water.Create buffer zones
Plant vegetation along stream banks, preferably native species, creating a thick buffer to help prevent livestock and wild animals from easily getting into the stream. Also, when it rains, native plants work well to trap any excess fertilizers, chemicals or dirt in the rainwater as it flows across the fields, ensuring that less of these harmful substances are flushed into our ocean.
Rotate animal grazing to prevent soil erosion, which will in turn prevent soil from becoming loose and possibly entering streams.Prevent soil erosion
Rotate animal grazing to prevent soil erosion in fields. Erosion results in the loss of nutrient-rich soil that is needed for crops to grow. When it rains, the water carries any loose soil and dirt into the streams where it can cause flooding.
Apply fertilizers and pesticides according to label instructions to prevent chemicals from entering waterways and causing pollution.Adhere to label instructions
Apply fertilizers and pesticides according to label instructions to save money and minimize pollution from excess chemicals washing out into streams and the ocean.

Household Hazardous Waste

Do you dispose of your household hazardous waste properly?

Some of the products you use at home are potentially hazardous. Safe handling and proper disposal of these materials will protect you, your family and our environment.

Download Hazardous Waste Disposal Flyer 

The following materials require special handling and should be disposed of at a household hazardous waste collection event.

Acetone
Arsenic
Boric Acid
Chlordane
DDT
Dieldrin
Fertilizers (liquid)
Formaldehyde
Gasoline
Herbicides
Hydrochloric Acid
Insecticides
Kerosene
Lead
Lighter Fluid
Malathion
Mercury
Muriatic Acid
Paint Stripper
Paint Thinner
Paraquat
Pentachlorophenol
Paris Green
Photographic Chemicals
Rust Remover
Solvents
Swimming Pool Chemicals
Turpentine
Varathane
Wood Preservatives
 
Call 768-3201 to schedule an appointment. Please prepare an inventory list of your items which include the material you wish to dispose of and its container size (i.e., acetone/two quarts). Requests for appointments must be made no later than one week prior to each event.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events for 2017:

January 7, 2017
March 11, 2017
May 13, 2017
July 1, 2017
September 2, 2017
November 4, 2017
 
For more information please visit http://www.opala.org/solid_waste/Household_Hazardous_Waste.html