Protect our Water

Did you know that over three million people depend on our lakes and streams for their drinking water? And that in Southeast Michigan there are over 300,000 registered boaters and 3.5 million people visit a local park each year?

With this many people depending on our lakes and streams for drinking water and recreation, we need to be careful how we treat our water. You might not be able to see the stream or lake from your house, but it’s there! It might be a small stream or ditch or even a storm drain in the street. All of these lead directly to our lakes and streams. So, what we do at home affects our water!

Simple Steps to Protect Our Water


For more easy steps on protecting our lakes and streams, visit SEMCOG's Ours to Protect website or contact 248-589-2294. Remember, our water is our future - and it’s ours to protect!
  1. Help keep pollution out of storm drains. Storm drains lead directly to our lakes and streams. So, never dump oil, pet waste, leaves, dirty water, or anything down a storm drain. Remember, only rain in the drain.
  2. Fertilize caringly and sparingly. Excess fertilizer that gets into storm drains pollutes our lakes by causing large algae blooms and using up oxygen fish need to survive. Sweep excess fertilizer back onto your lawn, use a low or no phosphorus fertilizer, and have your soil tested to see what, if any, fertilizer is needed.
  3. Carefully store and dispose of household cleaners, chemicals, and oil. Instead of putting hazardous products like antifreeze, motor oil, and pesticides in the trash, down the storm drain, or on the ground, take them to our local hazardous waste collection location.
  4. Clean up after your pet. Whether on a walk or in your yard, promptly clean up after your pet. Not only will be you a good neighbor, you will also protect our water from harmful bacteria.
  5. Practice good car care. Consider taking your car to a car wash or washing your car on the grass.
  6. Choose earth friendly landscaping. Protect your pets, kids, and the environment by using pesticides sparingly. Also, water your lawn only when it needs it and choose plants native to Michigan.
  7. Save water. Overwatering our lawns can easily carry pollution to the storm drains and to our lakes and streams. Consider using a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways. Direct hoses and sprinklers on the lawn, not the driveway.

Toxic Household Products


Remember, it’s not just toxic to you…

Did you know that many household products are dangerous to our kids, pets, and the environment? These materials pollute our waterways if washed or dumped into storm drains or roadside ditches that lead directly to our lakes and rivers. Household cleaners, pesticides, gasoline, antifreeze, used motor oil, and other hazardous products need to be labeled, stored, and disposed of properly.

So what can you do to help? Simple. Here are some steps you can take to carefully dispose of household wastes and help keep our water clean.
  • Identify it. Be aware of household products that can harm children, pets, and the environment. The words “danger,” “caution,” “warning,” or “toxic” indicate that you need to be careful in how you use and dispose of the product.
  • Less is better. Reduce waste and save money by purchasing only the materials you need. When possible, choose less toxic alternatives. For example, try cleaning your windows with vinegar and water.
  • Store properly. Keep unused products in their original containers with labels intact. Select cool, dry storage areas that are away from children, pets, and wildlife.
  • Disposal is key. Never dump cleaners, chemicals, motor oil, and other toxic materials down storm drains, roadside ditches, sinks, or on the ground. Contact your local community for household hazardous waste disposal locations, guidelines, and dates.

More Information


For more easy steps on protecting our lakes and rivers, visit SEMCOG or contact the Department of Public Services at 248-589-2294. Remember, our water is our future - and it’s ours to protect.