What You Can Do To Help

"Only Rain Down the Drain!"

By taking a few simple steps, we can do a great deal to clean up our streams and rivers, improve fish and wildlife habitats, and protect our drinking water supply.

Here are some helpful tips for preventing stormwater pollution and contamination.

Lawn Care

  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly and according to the directions.
  • Do not fertilize if rain is forecasted within the next 48 hours.
  • Select native plants and grasses that are drought-tolerant and pest-resistant.
  • Compost or recycle yard waste.
  • Cover piles of dirt/mulch to prevent them from flowing into storm drains.
  • Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing areas.
  • Plant grass and/or vegetation where soil is exposed.

Trash & Other Debris

  • Dispose of cigarette butts and other litter in garbage receptacles.
  • Pitch in and help clean up littered areas.
  • Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris (e.g., concrete and mortar).

Hazardous Substances

  • Use hazardous substances (paints, solvents, cleaners, etc.) in the smallest quantities possible.
  • Store substances properly.
  • Clean water-based painting supplies over soil.
  • Filter and reuse paint thinner.
  • Discard excess paints during household waste collection programs.
  • Clean up all spills immediately.
  • Dispose of solvent waste according to the instructions printed on the label.
  • Participate in the Town of Bethlehem Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day each spring.

Pet Waste Disposal

  • Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters since it is readily transported by rainfall into storm drains.  Pet waste is full of coliform bacteria and poses a serious health risk to pets and people.
  • When walking your pet, pick up the waste and dispose of it properly.
  • Don't dispose of pet waste near storm drains, culverts, ditches, or waterbodies - storm drains discharge directly to waterbodies and stormwater discharges are not treated.

Swimming Pools

  • Drain your pool only when the test kit detects no chlorine levels.
  • Store pool and spa chemicals properly in order to prevent leaks and spills.

Septic Systems

  • Have your septic system inspected by a professional every three years.
  • Pump your tank as necessary (every 3-5 years).
  • Care for the septic leach field by not driving over it or parking vehicles on it.
  • Do not dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets.

Vehicle Maintenance & Repair

  • Use a commercial car wash or, if possible, wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface to reduce the amount of dirty, soapy water flowing into the storm drain, culvert, or ditch.
  • Check your vehicle (car, boat, motorcycle, etc.) and other machinery for leaks and spills.
  • Clean up oil and chemical spills with an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sand.
  • Never dispose of oil or other engine fluids in the storm drain, culvert, ditch, trash, or on the ground. Recycle these fluids at participating service stations.


  • Collect roof water in rain barrels and reuse it for watering your lawn and/or garden. See our Stormwater Links page for further information.
  • Direct gutter downspouts to a well vegetated area, perhaps a rain garden. Lawns will soak up most of the water and filter out the pollutants.
  • Disconnect your gutter system from the storm drainage system where possible.