The Clean Water Program formed because of degradation to Skagit County marine tidelands and fresh water in the mid-1990s. The intent of the program is to facilitate improvements to surface water by monitoring and identifying sources of non-point pollution. Non-point pollution can be found in the form of stormwater runoff, onsite sewage systems, animal grazing and manure management and other activities that may threaten water quality (Chapter 90.72 RCW).
Not only will many of the actions below reduce pollution, they also may save you money! From reduced costs for yard care to catching small problems before they become big ones, taking these actions is the right choice
Less exposure to toxics. Lower cost. A healthy environment. These are all great reasons to switch to natural yard care.
With natural yard care, you will be gardening in a way that prevents problems from happening in the first place. Following the five steps to natural yard care is a guaranteed easy way to make sure your garden is healthy for you, the plants, and the environment. It can save you time and money too. When you stop killing ALL the bugs, you let the good bugs do the work for you by eating up the bad bugs! Plus, you’ll find that all sorts of beautiful and beneficial things show up in your garden that you never had before – lady bugs, dragonflies, bumblebees, songbirds, and more.
This great guide has everything you need to get started, including video tutorials and easy tips.
Once a year, Skagit County and the Skagit Conservation District sponsor a Backyard Conservation Stewardship course. In this six week program, you’ll learn how to create beautiful landscapes that benefit humans, animals, stream health, and the environment. Learn more and sign up here!
This garden is managed with 100% natural yard care.
IT’S ALIVE! Dog poop isn’t just gross. It’s raw sewage, full of viruses, worm eggs, and bacteria that can make people and other pets sick. Those pathogens can live as long as a year. Long after that pile has disintegrated into the grass, pathogens are still lurking among the blades of grass.
In just one day, a single dog can produce 5 billion fecal coliform bacteria. It only takes 400 bacteria to make a cup of water unsafe to touch. So in 24 hours, one dog can contaminate more than 780,000 gallons of water when that poop is left to be washed down to the creek by rain.
Dog poop also has nutrients in it that can get carried to the creek by rainfall. Those nutrients can cause algae blooms that suffocate fish and other aquatic life. It’s not only a threat to the health of our community, but the health of our ecosystems and economy!
No joke. Picking up poop is NOT the best part of having a pet, but it’s in the job description. Otherwise, you’re risking harming the health of your pet, your kids, even the salmon and shellfish you have for dinner. So scoop it, bag it, and trash it. Learn more here.
Got questions about pet poop? See our FAQ section for more information!
There’s no problem with having a clean car. It’s just a matter of how and where you wash it!
The average home car wash uses 65 gallons of water. If you’re washing the car on your driveway, that’s 65 gallons of water polluted with soap, dirt, oil, and road grease, flowing right into the nearest storm drain or ditch. You may not realize it, but storm drains and ditches dump right into the nearest creek, with no treatment at all.
What to do? There are a couple of great options!
Use a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes treat the wash water to remove pollutants. They also filter and recycle the water so your end up using less.
Wash your car on a gravel or grassy area so the soil can filter the water
Having a fundraiser car wash?
Borrow one of the car wash kits to capture wash water and redirect it to where it will be treated! The following organizations have them.
Skagit County Public Works (360) 416-1400
City of Anacortes (360) 293-1920
City of Burlington (360) 755-9715
City of Mt. Vernon (360) 336-6204
City of Sedro-Woolley (360) 855-0771
Skagit Conservation District (360) 428-4313
Car fluids don’t just drip on the ground. They drip on the ground and get washed into the nearest storm drain, and then into our local waterways. Those drips add up quickly, and they can harm the fish, Orca whales, and all the other animals living in our streams and marine waters.
Rain gardens are a smart and proven way of using beautiful landscaping to beautify and improve homes and neighborhoods, reduce flooding, clean our waterways, protect our precious natural habitats and save millions of dollars in pollution clean-up and massive utility construction projects.
A rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden designed to slow, filter, and absorb runoff from roofs or pavement keeping it from becoming harmful water pollution. Rain gardens are carefully designed to achieve their goal by using spongy living soils and properly chosen plants.
12,000 Rain Gardens has lots of great resources to learn about and build rain gardens, and see where they’re being installed in the Puget Sound region.
Other ways to reduce and filter runoff from your property include using mulch to amend and improve soils (and keep the weeds down), collect rain in a rain barrel or cistern, replace traditional pavement with permeable pavement, plant native trees and shrubs, or install a green roof. Learn more here.
If the label says “Danger”, “Warning”, or “Caution” on it, don’t throw it in the trash! Use it up, or bring it to us. When hazardous waste gets put in the trash instead of being taken to a hazardous waste facility, it can spill and leak on the way to the landfill. That could hurt other people and the environment. So let us take it off your hands for you, free of charge!
Septic systems cost thousands of dollars to install, and a failure can happen at any time – even in a newer system! Protect your investment by regularly maintaining your septic system.
What is regular maintenance? First and foremost, get it inspected regulary – every year, or every three years if you have a gravity system with no moving parts. An inspection will tell you whether you need to get it pumped, and whether there’s something small that needs fixing in order to prevent a big failure.
Learning how to treat your septic system will help you extend its life, too. Take our Septics 101 online course to learn how your septic system works. And, if you have a basic gravity system, you can learn to inspect your own septic system in our Septics 201 course.
Everything you need to know is on our Onsite Sewage Program webpage.
Native plants do a great job of providing food and shelter for birds, pollinating insects, and other wildlife. They’re already adapted to the kinds of soils that we find here in Western Washington, so they do a great job of controlling erosion by holding soil with their roots. Native plants also don’t need pesticides and fertilizers, so they’re better for kids, pets, and our waterways. You can find a list of native plants adapted to this region here.