Who’s the Bad Guy?

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Water Resources Coordinator

Do you know?

Well, it’s not Darth Vader

Who is the biggest polluter of the Clinton River and other waters of the State?

When this question is asked it often congers up images of large grey buildings billowing smoke out of tall stacks and large pipes discharging some type of grayish-brown liquid into a nearby river or lake.  It has to be industry, right!  Well, that answer would have been correct if it was asked back in the 70’s, but no longer. Times have changed.

Over the last 40 years, industry has had to implement many changes under the Clean Water Act to reduce and clean any types of discharges that may originate from their sites.  As a result of these efforts, industry accounts for only about 3% of today’s water pollution problem.

If it’s not industry, then who could it be?  Believe it or not … the correct answer is people!  These people are not so easily identifiable like those sinister villains you see on TV or in the movies.  The truth is our water can be harmed by things that we do every day.  That’s right, us!

For example, when it rains water washes over lawns, sidewalks, and streets.  Besides litter, this water picks up chemicals found in lawn fertilizers, bacteria found in pet waste, and oil from cars.  The polluted water then enters roadside ditches and the storm drains found in our streets.  Large pipes underground connect the storm drains to the closest river, lake or stream – even the ones you don’t see every day.

It’s that very reason some say that we all live on a river, lake, or stream.  We might not be able to see it from our window, but it’s there.  It might be a small stream or ditch our even a storm drain in the street.  They all lead to water.

So, don’t be the bad guy!  Learn what you can do to prevent water pollution by visiting www.auburnhills.org/stormwater.  You can make a difference.