Toxic chemicals found in pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers can be carried from your house and lawn out to the Delta during a rain storm. Stormwater flows over your home and yard and directly to the Delta, untreated, through your neighborhood storm drains. These chemicals can have terrible and even deadly impacts on our native plant and animal life.
To learn how you can help save our creeks and Delta without sacrificing the quality of your home and garden check out these helpful suggestions:
About 70 million pounds of pesticides are applied to urban lawns in the US each year and more than half of California's pesticide use is in urban neighborhoods, not agricultural applications. These pesticides typically contain chemicals such as malathion and carbaryl, which even in small doses can be very toxic. Old pesticides may contain even more toxic chemicals, such as diazinon and chlorpyrifos which have been banned for use from the EPA. For more information on the impacts of these chemicals on our water quality check out the Our Water Our World - Pesticides and Water Pollution Fact Sheet[PDF].
Incorporate Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in your lawn, garden, home and business. IPM practices include the use of biological and physical alternatives for pest prevention and control, instead of using chemicals.
Attract beneficial bugs - Did you know that 1 ladybug can eat 5,000 aphids in its lifetime or that dragonfly larvae hunt mosquito larvae, snails, and other insects? Attracting the right bugs into your yard can effective manage and potentially eliminate your pest problem without the use of any chemicals or treatments. There are lots of resources to help you pick the right plants and garden management techniques for your yard. Or you can also "hire" bugs from companies such as Nature's Control to release overnight in your garden. Start by checking out The 10 Most Wanted Bugs In You Garden [PDF] and Growing A Healthy Garden To Manage Pests Naturally [PDF]. For even more information call (925) 252-4129 to request a free copy of Backyard Bugs.
Prevent insects in your home - Keep your home free of pests and insects in the first place by keeping surfaces clean and storing food and drinks in sealed containers. Vacuum, wash dishes, and take out the trash regularly that way there isn't food lying around to entice outside bugs. Also make sure all potential entry points to your home such as cracks in baseboards, cupboards, pipes, and ducts are sealed or screened off.
Use diluted soap solutions and botanical pest controls - If you have to use pesticides/insecticides used ones that do not contain toxic chemicals, but instead use diluted soap or pyrethrins, which are much safer for the environment. For a list of safer alternative products check out Our Water Our World's Less Toxic Product List[PDF].
For more information on these suggestions and other ways you can manage your garden without the use of harmful chemicals visit:
Fertilizers contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous to help your plants grow. Unfortunately, when they are introduced to the environment in quantities larger than naturally occurring they can cause severe impacts. Large algal blooms fed by excess nitrogen or phosphorous can block off light from the plants underneath them and rob the surrounding water of vital oxygen causing death for plant and animal life in the water system. Here are a couple of ideas for organic alternatives and safer practices that you can use in your garden and yard.
Composting - 27% of trash sent to the landfill is actually compostable material. Composting is an easy way to reduce your waste and save yourself some money on expensive fertilizers. Organic compost is also safe for the environment. For help and information on how to get started visit the City's Composting and Vermicomposting page. Or if you don't have time or space, but still want the advantages that natural compost can bring, Pittsburg's Recycling Center and Transfer Station now has bulk compost available for purchase, simply call (925) 473-0180.
Grasscycling - Leaving lawn clippings on your lawn after mowing is a great source of natural fertilizer for your yard as well as saving you time and money from bagging and throwing away. The grass clippings decompose relatively quickly reintroducing the nutrients within themselves to your lawn and reduces the amount of water you need.
Buy Organic Fertilizer - If you must buy fertilizer for your yard make sure it is organic or made from 100% recovered organic materials in order to keep your environmental impact to a minimum.