Easy Actions to Protect Our Creeks and Puget Sound

Stormwater is unavoidable here in the Puget Sound region, but its effects on our natural waterways, our wildlife, and our fisheries can be managed by keeping harmful chemicals, toxins, and wastes out of stormwater runoff. Help keep our local waterways clean and healthy by avoiding the worst stormwater pollution offenders!

Prevent car leaks

Don't Drip and Drive. Fix that leak.

Car leaks are one of the most serious water polluters—even a small leak can have a big impact on the health of our wildlife and fisheries. Preserve our environment as you preserve your car. Don’t Drip & Drive will help you:

Avoid pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers

So many of us love our gardens. We work hard to create a beautiful space to play, relax, or grow our own food. By avoiding pesticides, herbicides, and non-organic fertilizers, we create spaces that are both healthy for the people we love and the environment.

Rain, as well as watering our lawns and gardens, can move chemicals applied to the yard out of the yard and into local waterways via storm drains. There are many effective gardening techniques that don’t involve the use of chemicals.

Five steps to natural yard care

  1. Build healthy soil
  2. Plant right for your site
  3. Practice smart watering
  4. Think twice before using pesticides
  5. Practice natural lawn care.

Download the comprehensive guide to Natural Yard Care for Western Washington.

Need help?

The Garden Hotline, a regional service managed by Tilth Alliance and sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities and other organizations, has experienced gardeners who can help you solve your most troubling garden problems. They offer both new and experience gardeners individualized solutions that are practical, safe, effective, and natural.

Staff are available Monday–Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (language interpretation available). The service is completely free! 

(206) 633-0224      

[email protected]

Scoop the poop

Most of us pick up our pet’s poop, but for those who don’t—you may be doing more than just upsetting the neighbors. Pet waste contains bacteria that is harmful to other animals, people (especially children) and our local creeks and streams. When it rains, bacteria from pet waste is carried into storm drains, which pours directly out into our streams, creeks, and Puget Sound.

Dog and boy.

Common diseases from pet waste include:

  • Salmonellosis: the most common bacterial infection transmitted to humans by other animals. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Toxocariasis: roundworms usually transmitted from dogs to humans, often without noticeable symptoms, but may cause vision loss, a rash, fever or cough.
  • Toxoplasmosis: a parasite carried by cats that can cause birth defects if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy, and can also be a problem for people with depressed immune systems

What can you do? Pick up the poo!

Keep bags with your leash so you are prepared on every walk. Always throw bags in the garbage. Pet waste is NOT compostable, even if you have a compostable bag!

Out in your neighborhood or on one of your favorite trails, help pick up left behind pet waste. While you shouldn’t be responsible, picking up leftover piles helps in a few ways.

When others see poop left unscooped, it can cause them to think that people in that neighborhood are don’t mind the waste. Removing poop and leaving a clean environment helps send the message that people need to scoop up their dog’s poop.

You immediately reduce the potential for bacteria and parasites to spread within our community.

If you are up to it, kindly call it out. People continue to leave pet waste because they find it gross. But for most people, what’s worse than feeling disgusted is feeling embarrassed. By gently bringing attention to the situation, you can encourage others to clean up their animal’s waste (if you rude, people get defensive). Try the following if you see someone walking away from their animal’s fresh pile:

  • Offer the individual an extra bag or, if a bag dispensing station is close, simply say, “in case you don’t have something to clean pick up your dog poop with, there are free bags right over there.”
  • Say, “Hi there, the neighborhood is really trying to make sure all dog poop goes in the garbage. Would you mind bringing a bag next time or come back and pick this up later?”
  • If they can see you, you can also go over and pick up the dog waste with a bag of your own. If you make eye contact, you can smile and simply say, “It’s important.”

Car Washing

When cars are washed in driveways or parking lots, the soapy water runs into the roads, collecting pollutants on its way to a nearby storm drain, which then goes into our local creeks and streams. This dirty water is not treated and is harmful to the wildlife in Miller, Walker, and Salmon Creeks, as well as Puget Sound.

Instead of washing your car in a driveway or parking lot:

  1. Go to a commercial car wash facility: they are required to clean water used in car washing. They also use less water than washing your car at home.
  2. Wash your car on your lawn, if washing at home. Your lawn will soak up the water (getting a nice drink) and will prevent runoff from reaching the road.
  3. If you can’t wash on the lawn, borrow a free car wash kit from the City of Burien! It keeps water out of the storm drain and pumps it into the sewer system, instead. To reserve a car wash kit, call Public Works at (206) 248-5521.

Want to host a charity car wash event?

Sell car wash tickets. The Puget Sound Car Wash Association promotes water quality by offering car wash tickets to qualifying nonprofit organizations. Car wash tickets can be sold to the public for participating car wash facilities. The Elephant Car Wash is a participating member, located at 13855 1st Ave. S. Visit Charity Car Wash for more information or call (800) 509-9274. Charity car wash events can also use the car wash kits described below.

Use car wash kits. If your community or organization wants to sponsor a car wash event for a fundraiser, call Public Works at (206) 248-5521 to make a reservation for a car wash kit. Car wash kits contain a catch basin insert, pump and hose that can be used to route dirty water away from a storm drain and onto adjacent grassy areas or into a sanitary sewer. These kits are also great for washing off your parking lot!

View the procedure to check out a car wash kit

The kits were initially funded by the Water and Land Resource Division of King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks grant programs, and are now being maintained with the City’s Surface Water Fund.