Are you polluting our waterways  - find out below

Why should we be concerned ?  Water from our homes eventually flows into rivers and streams, either via the sewer system and treatment plant or stormwater channels. 

Rivers are much closer than you think, and what you pour down your drains may be causing unnecessary pain for our rivers, especially the wildlife.  Pollution can also make our urban lakes unfit for swimming and other recreational uses. 

We all have some impact on the quality of water that passes through our homes. There are lots of ways we can each reduce this river footprint.  Try our quick checklist below to see how you can be a responsible home owner and help revive our rivers.

Once you've done this audit, why not go on to do the checklist to find out how to save water around the home.

Home - river pollution checklist

(Suggestion: you may want to print this out so you can write on it as you work through or maybe download it as a pdf file here)

 

Kitchen:

 

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Do you avoid pouring down the sink oil and fatty substances such as from the deep fryer or frying pan ?

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Do you avoid pouring milk down the sink ?

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Do you use detergents and cleaning products that are river-friendly - low in phosphorus, chlorine and solvents ?

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Do you try to minimise the amount of detergent used when hand washing and in the dish washer.  Many people say you need much less than the manufacturers recommend.

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Do you minimise use of your insinkerator (or similar products), instead using a composting or worm farm system to keep vegetable matter out of our waterways ?

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Do you collect vegetable food scraps and compost them or feed a worm farm ?

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Do you use a plug-hole strainer to catch debris from the washing up ?

 

Laundry:

 

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Do you use washing powder and cleaning products that are river-friendly - low in phosphorus for example.

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Do you try to minimise the amount of washing powder you use ? Again, try cutting back to see if you can save money and reduce pollution of our waterways. Of course, it's important not to compromise cleanliness in so doing.

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Do you have your laundry hooked up to a grey water recycling system ?  Keeping this water away from the rivers is helpful and it will save you water on the garden.

 

Bathroom and en suite:

 

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Do you use soaps, shampoos, tooth pastes and cleaning products that are river-friendly - low in phosphorus for example.  For cleaning products, avoid those high in chlorides.

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Do you have your shower and bath hooked up to a grey water recycling system ?

 

Toilets:

 

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Do you use a toilet bowl freshener that is non-toxic ?

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If you have one, do you have your septic tank serviced regularly ?

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Do you clean your toilet with river-friendly products (see above)?

 

Swimming pool (if you have one):

 

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Do you dispose of chlorine residues in the recommended way, meaning not down the drain ?

 

Driveway and other hard surfaces:

 

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Do you fix oil and other leaks from your car straight away ?

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Do you sweep rather than hose down your driveway and other paved areas to avoid washing oil, grease etc into stormwater drains ?

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Do you wash your car on the lawn or garden, or go to a car washing facility ?

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Do you drain antifreeze from your car into a bucket and then dispose of it as recommended, meaning not down the stormwater drain ?

 

Workshop and garage:

 

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Do you avoid washing paint brushes in the sink or over the stormwater drain ?

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Do you avoid pouring paint and turpentine down the drain ?

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Do you dispose of excess or used oil, degreaser, mower or car fuel etc in an environmentally-friendly way ?  These have devastating impacts on our rivers and wildlife.

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Do you avoid washing or rinsing weed spraying equipment in the sink or near the stormwater.  Even small residues of these poisons (see below) can also have serious impacts on rivers and wildlife.

 

Gardens and lawns:

 

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Do you avoid using fertilisers when the forecast is for rain ? Otherwise they simply wash down into our rivers helping to create algal blooms.

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Do you take steps to avoid soil erosion or run-off through bare ground areas.  Soil clogs our rivers and smothers aquatic plant life.

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Do you only use enviro-friendly pesticides and herbicides in the garden ?  Avoiding them altogether is better.  Try hand-pulling weeds instead.  Don't use pesticides and herbicides if rain is forecast (see above).

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Do you regularly clean your gutters ?  This is not only a good thing to do to reduce fire risk, but also improves water quality.

 

Renovations, landscaping:

 

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Do you take steps to avoid soil erosion or run-off through exposed or excavated areas.  In most places now builders are required to take steps to prevent soil washing into stormwater drains...make sure yours does.

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Do you ensure builders or tradies you engage are also doing the right things and not pouring the by-products of their work down the drains ?

 

There are 30 questions above.  If you scored above 25, then you're doing a great job.  Keep it up and see how close to 30 you can get.  Between 20 and 25 there's probably scope to do better. Under 20, then your home certainly has room for improvement.  If your home or family scored less than 15 then maybe it's time to use this list to change your river footprint. 

 

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