AltUse Find - Water Pollution Facts

Water Pollution Fact #1: Water from rain, storm drains, and ditches flows directly to streams and bays with little or no treatment. Storm drains and ditches are DIFFERENT than sewers. They are NOT CONNECTED to a treatment plant. Read More

Water Pollution Fact #2: We all live in a watershed. What you do on your property does affect streams, even if you don’t live on a stream. A watershed is an area of land which drains to the lowest point, usually a stream or bay.

Water Pollution Fact #3: Small amounts of contaminants from all over the land add up to cause pollution in our water. Yes, even the little things matter. You WILL make a difference, no matter how small, if you change the way you do some things.
  • Follow the suggestions in this Fact Sheet to minimize your impact on our water.
Water Pollution Fact #4: Failing septic systems pollute. Untreated wastewater from failing septic systems can contaminate nearby streams, drinking water sources, and bays.
  • Inspect your septic system every 3-5 years.
  • Pump as needed.
Water Pollution Fact #5: Soap from washing your car at home pollutes. Soap and dirt from washing your car can flow through our storm drains and ditches and end up in our streams untreated.
  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash, on the grass, or on a graveled area.
Water Pollution Fact #6: Soap from charity car washes can pollute if not handled properly.
  • Many charity car washes use available alternatives to prevent dirty, soapy water from going down the storm drain. Commercial car wash water goes to the sewer and is treated. Hold your charity car wash at a commercial car wash with a charity car wash program.
  • Contact Kitsap County’s Sound Car Wash Program at 360-337-5777 to reserve the FREE Bubble Buster.
Water Pollution Fact #7: Oil and antifreeze from leaking cars pollutes. When it rains, water runs over the ground and picks up oil, antifreeze, and other pollutants and carries them to our streams and bays.
  • Put a drip tray under your car to catch car leaks.
  • Fix car leaks.
Water Pollution Fact #8: Garden and lawn chemicals pollute. Common pesticides and fertilizers have been found in neighborhood streams in the Puget Sound Region.
  • Pull weeds by hand.
  • Avoid use of chemicals. If necessary, use sparingly and as directed.
  • Call for information on alternatives to weed and bug killers.
Water Pollution Fact #9: Household cleaners and chemicals can pollute. Cleaners and chemicals used or disposed of outside can end up in our streams and bays. These same cleaners and chemicals can cause harm to septic systems and wastewater treatment plants.
  • Contact The Open Line for alternatives to household cleaners and chemicals.
Water Pollution Fact #10: Pet waste pollutes our water. Pet waste contributed to the pollution that closed some shellfish beds in Kitsap County.
  • Scoop, double bag, and throw pet waste in the garbage.
Water Pollution Fact #11: Waste from livestock pollutes our water. When it rains, water runs over fields and pastures and can carry harmful bacteria from livestock waste to streams and provides unwanted fertilizer in streams.
  • Compost livestock waste.
  • Fence livestock from stream access.
  • Contact Kitsap Conservation District at 360-337-7171 for assistance and alternatives.
Water Pollution Fact #12: Driveways and walkways can be sources of water pollution. Oil, antifreeze, and other pollutants can collect on your driveway. If you hose down the driveway, the water carries all these pollutants to the streams.
  • Sweep your driveway and walkways instead of hosing down.
  • Use apple vinegar to kill moss on driveways and walkways.
Water Pollution Fact # 13: Lawn clippings and yard waste in ravines and ponds can become unwanted fertilizer for streams. Too much plant growth in streams can use up all the oxygen and kill fish and aquatic life.
  • Compost your yard waste.
  • Use a mulching mower.
Water Pollution Fact # 14: Too much soil in runoff can pollute. Soil from erosion carries pollutants and smothers salmon eggs in spawning gravel.
  • Plant vegetation on or cover bare ground.
  • Cover piles of soil.
  • Fence livestock from stream access.
Water Pollution Fact # 15: Sewage from boating can pollute. Untreated sewage is a significant risk to human health and wildlife.
  • While boating, treat and dispose of your sewage properly.
  • Pump your waste holding tanks at pump-out facilities.
  • Properly maintain marine sanitation device hoses to prevent clogging and unnecessary odors.
Water Pollution Fact # 16: Boat and engine maintenance can pollute. Toxic chemicals, oils, cleaners, and paint scrapings from boat maintenance can make their way into the water.
  • Complete any maintenance involving paints, solvents, or sanding with the boat pulled out of and away from the water.
  • Pick-up, don't rinse-off. Use drop cloths, drip pans and vacuums to collect and contain paint, fluids and scrapings associated with maintenance projects.
  • Use less toxic or non-toxic cleaning alternatives.
  • Use oil absorbent pillows or pads in your bilge to soak up oil.
  • Use anti-fouling paints with caution and according to the manufacturer's directions.
  • Contact the Washington Sea Grant Program at 360-337-7165 for information and classes on clean boating and boating maintenance.
Water Pollution Fact # 17: Oil and antifreeze pollute our water when disposed of improperly. Oil and antifreeze that are spilled during maintenance or are dumped on the ground can be carried by runoff to our streams and bays.
  • Clean up small spills with rags. For larger spills, use absorbent kitty litter and sweep it up with a broom.
  • Use drip pans when unclipping hoses, unscrewing filters, or removing other parts.
  • Recycle used oil and antifreeze. Call The Open Line for recycling information and locations, or visit
Water Pollution Fact # 18: Waste from household repairs can pollute our water. Contractors and service people must properly dispose of chemicals and water used during their work.
  • Make sure contractors you hire dispose of chemicals properly.
  • Request use of non-toxic products.
Water Pollution Fact # 19: Littering pollutes. Litter thrown on the ground can end up in our storm drains, ditches, and streams.
  • Throw all litter in appropriate trash cans.
  • Keep litter out of pick up truck beds and cover loads so items aren't blown off to the ground.
  • Recycle and reuse items whenever possible.
Water Pollution Fact # 20: The things we do everyday contribute to over half the pollution in Puget Sound. Litter thrown on the ground can end up in our storm drains, ditches, and streams.
  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash, on the grass, or a graveled area.
  • Pull weeds manually or use chemicals sparingly and as directed.
  • Scoop, double bag, and throw pet waste in the garbage.
  • Inspect your septic system regularly and pump it as needed.
  • Contact the Open Line for more facts and alternatives.