“Dad said something about runoff from the street? I think he said something about fertilizer, oil and other chemicals.” He shrugged. “I don’t know what that means though.”
What is “runoff”?
In my latest book, A Manatee Miracle, I aim to teach our youngest readers about ocean life and ocean health – but in a non-preachy way. I’ve seen the effects of runoff in the ocean firsthand. As a child in the Florida Keys I witnessed the death of much of the life in one canal in a span of less than ten years. Manatees are just one of the victims of human carelessness.
You can help prevent manatee mortalities as well as harm to our oceans and other sea life. Runoff, such as sewage, manure and fertilizer enters waterways and causes algal blooms, some of which can be fatally toxic to manatees, and can kill grass beds that manatees rely on to eat.
What can you do to help?
Purchase environmentally safe products. (I know this is easier said than done, but there are many alternatives to the harshest of chemicals available in stores these days. It’s worth a shot.)
Properly store and/or dispose of toxic materials and do not discard waste in storm drains.
Use fertilizers sparingly and consider using a compost for yard and food waste.
Sweep up areas instead of hosing them down.
Check vehicles for leaks and properly recycle motor oil.
Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in your driveway.
Pick your weeds instead of spraying weed killer chemicals that end up in the oceans and waterways.
The good news is, I have seen improvement in the canals of the Keys too. With a little bit of knowledge we can help bring life back to waterways that have been hurt.