As someone who is married to an engineer who specializes in water treatment planning and design, I’m embarrassed to admit I once knew a lot less than I thought I did about how the Fresno area urban water system works. Having enough water is often on the minds of Valley residents, as droughts can definitely be a challenging aspect of Central California living – however, if we can’t always have as much rain water as we’d like – one thing we can do is proactively make small changes that protect the water that we do have.
A key agency that helps ensure Fresnans have a clean, safe water supply and are able to keep their homes safe during major storms is the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District (FMFCD). So what exactly does FMFCD do you may be wondering? Well – a lot actually!
FMFCD provides a flood control and integrated storm-water system that directly serves 690,000 people living in the Fresno-Clovis area. This system consists of over 700 square miles of underground pipe and an interconnected system of 150 storm water basins.
When we have a rainstorm or any cause of excessive water on the ground, the streets are designed to direct the water to the nearest storm drain. It then flows through underground pipes to basins, filters through the ground and eventually ends up in the aquifer, which is our underground water supply.
Keeping the storm water system clear and functional for hundreds and thousands of people is no small task – and its absolutely critical to all of our quality of life. There are a few simple things we can do as Fresno or Clovis residents that help keep this job manageable and ensure our ground water supply is usable and safe. Want to help? (We hope so!)
Here are the top 5 things you can do to protect our ground water
- Throw trash away in proper receptacles. Litter is the biggest source of clogs in the storm water system as its easily blown or carried into storm drains, and when the system is clogged water can not filter down to the aquifer properly and our water supply dwindles or can become contaminated. Want to lend an even bigger helping hand? Consider volunteering your time on a Saturday morning and join a park clean up crew to help rid our city of excess litter. Find out more and sign up here. (This would be a great way to get kids involved into volunteering and helping their community, too!)
- Keep motor oil out of our ground water supply by utilizing recycling services available throughout Fresno County. If you do your own oil changes, be sure to collect the oil in a proper container and dispose of it properly. If you spill oil on the driveway, don’t hose it down to the gutter – instead absorb it with gravel or kitty litter, and sweep it into the trash. For a list of places to properly dispose of used motor oil in Fresno County, click here.
- Take unused paint you no longer need to a Paint Care used paint drop off location. Whatever you do, do not dump paint down the storm drain or into gutters. Paint and paint thinner are the number 3 worst perpetuator of water contamination. Almost all local stores that sell paint also accept used paint for disposal. For a list of local drop off spots, click here.
- Monitor your watering and consider treating your yard with non-chemical fertilizers. Excess watering or fertilizing too close to an incoming storm can result in lots of excess water and chemicals running off of your yard, into the gutter and ultimately down to our water supply. Closely monitor your watering schedule, and watch for water run off caused by excess watering or misaligned sprinklers. To learn more about natural fertilizer options, and which might be best for your yard, click here.
- Switch to less-toxic pest control options. Similarly to the issue excess watering causes with lawn fertilizer, toxic pesticides and our water supply should not mix. Closely monitor your yard watering to avoid run off that may wash pesticides to the street, and also consider swapping the chemicals you use to keep bugs and spiders at bay for more natural, yet highly effective options. For a list of best options or information on what works best for the types of pests you deal with, click here.
If we all make an effort to be aware of these small shifts in behavior, and how much of an impact it can have on the water we all rely on, we can help ensure the quality and safety of our water for our entire community.
For additional information, please visit the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District’s website here.