Pollution In Our Oceans
A major component to improve our nearshore water quality involves the treatment of our island’s stormwater runoff. Currently, storm runoff carries various pollutants (oils, trash, fertilizer, etc.) into our storm drains where they are eventually released through 63 outfalls into our nearshore waters with very little filtration taking place.
Landscape & Lawn Care
Keep fertilizer out of our nearshore waters. When fertilizer seeps past the roots into the water table or runs off into canals and storm drains water quality deteriorates and algae blooms.
Fertilize Properly Tips
- Dispose of lawn and garden chemicals at the Hazardous Waste Drop-off event.
- Do not fertilize within 10 feet of the water or before a heavy rain event.
- IFAS EDIS
- IFAS Extension BMP for Lawn (PDF)
- IFAS Extensions Landscaping (PDF)
- Sweep up spilled fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. Store products in dry covered areas to prevent products from being washed into storm drains.
- Treat only problem areas.
- Use non-toxic pesticides.
- Use phosphorous-free fertilizer.
- Use slow release fertilizers and move fertilizer to just below soil surface.
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal
Chemicals that are washed into storm drains, canals, and nearshore waters can increase algae growth and kill off smaller aquatic animals. On the first Saturday of every month, City of Key West residents may dispose of household chemicals for free. Bring toxic chemicals, such as paint, automotive fluids, lawn maintenance, and pool chemicals, to Indigenous Park, 8 am to Noon.
Cigarette Butt Disposal
Cigarette butt litter is toxic and harmful to marine life. Cigarette filters contain cellulose acetate a plastic that does not biodegrade and persists in the environment. Cigarette butts are carried in stormwater runoff through storm drains into nearshore waters and canals. Birds, turtles, sea mammals, and fish ingest discarded cigarette butts.
Free Pocket Ashtrays available at City Hall.
Pet Waste Disposal
Pet waste contributes to stormwater pollution and degrades nearshore water quality. Pet waste deposited on sidewalks, lawns, beaches and parks washes into storm drains and the ocean during rain events, contaminating the water with bacteria, parasites, viruses, and nutrients. Picking up pet waste is the best action to take to keep nearshore waters clean. Bring a bag for picking up pet waste. Read Section 10-8 of the Code of Ordinances (PDF).
Car Washing & Maintenance
Car washing is a pollution problem because metals and automotive fluids are washed off in the soapy water
into streets and down storm drains
and out to the ocean and nearshore waters. Soapy water and dirty car wash water are harmful to fish and aquatic life.
Avoid Drainage to Storm Drains
It is best to wash your vehicle without letting the water runoff into the street. Washing your vehicle on the lawn is best to let the grass absorb the water. Then, dump the soapy water in the bucket into a sink drain, not into the street and storm drains as storm drains do not go to a treatment plant.
Park your vehicle on the grass or gravel area where water will filter into the ground and not run off into the street and storm drains. Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle to reduce water consumption and excess runoff.
Reducing Pollution in Urban Environments
Rain events generate stormwater runoff that flows over streets and parking areas picking up the following debris that pollutes nearshore waters:
- Cigarette butts
Construction Industry Stormwater General Permit
Sediment and pollutants from construction sites can significantly impact nearshore water quality. Large and small construction sites must obtain a stormwater permit and implement pollution prevention practices.