August is National Water Quality Month and what better time draw attention to the importance of having clean water than during a month when many people are outside enjoying summer water activities.
Water is a valuable and necessary resource for all of us who live, work, learn, and play in Clackamas County. Our county is home to many rivers, lakes, and streams and has a thriving agricultural and tourism industry that depends on our abundant and beautiful water resources.
We Work to Protect Water Quality
The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District works with landowners, organizations, and agency partners to protect and restore the quality of surface and groundwater. Efforts we all make today assure future supplies of water for people, plants, and animals.
Our conservation specialists offer free technical assistance on a wide variety of conservation practices that affect water quality. Some practices often used in urban areas would include rain gardens and bioswales. These help clean water by allowing it to infiltrate into soil and replenish groundwater.
Practices that one might use in a rural or agricultural area would include mud and manure management to keep bacteria from contaminating a waterway or well, streamside planting to stabilize stream banks and shade the water, or field borders and between row cover crops to keep the soil in the field instead of eroding into a stream.
In addition, the District currently offers a Septic System Repair Loan Program to residents in the Clackamas River Watershed. An increasingly common source of water contamination is old septic systems that are wearing out or leaking. These failing systems can become a serious public health and water quality concern, especially since almost 300,000 people receive their drinking water from the Clackamas River.
In collaboration with our partners, the District has hosted several pesticide collection events. Since 2007, the total quantity of pesticides collected at events held in Clackamas County equals 151,915 pounds. That is just slightly less than 76 tons! Any time we can remove old, restricted, or unusable pesticides from the watershed, we are safer from accidental spills that reach water.
Landowners who raise livestock, and the people who live downstream from them, benefit from our many workshops. These workshops give people the skills to manage their farm operations or homesites in ways that can reduce water pollution or destruction of valuable fish and wildlife habitat.
Celebrate Water Quality Month
Here’s a short list of things that we can all do to help preserve water quality:
- Refrain from using antibacterial soaps or cleaning products
- Keep paint and other hazardous waste out of storm drains
- Properly dispose of pet waste
- Cover manure piles during the rainy season
- Maintain vegetative buffers along streamsides, livestock enclosures, and agricultural fields
- Don’t flush unused or expired medications — take them to a free drop-off instead
- Choose natural home and yard care
- Explore the use of permeable pavements
- Reduce use of pesticide and chemical fertilizers
- Fix leaks that drip from cars, equipment, or other vehicles
- Participate in a clean-up event with your local watershed council
Contact the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District at 503-210-6000 for additional information on how you can implement practices on your property to help preserve or restore water quality.
Additionally, you can follow us on Facebook to receive a wide variety of useful conservation related news or sign up to receive our monthly newsletter below.