Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.
This week’s question comes from Helen, who just bought a waterfront house in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and wants to do her part to keep the water as clean as possible: I would like to do what I can – plant the right things, don’t plant the wrong things, etc. What can I do that entails my labor rather than money?
People are often at a loss, especially in difficult economic times, about what they can do to to help the Bay -- and not break the bank at the same time. While there are some environmental options that are costly, there are many actions you can take every day that will make a positive difference to your local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.
Helen mentioned that she already cleans debris out of the creek with a net, but that there appears to be an oily film near the “shore.” Removing trash and debris from the ground and water is simple and something that anyone can do. By cleaning up your surroundings, you can save litter from flowing into the Bay via stormwater runoff.
As far as the “oily film” Helen mentioned, this may be caused by runoff from the land, which carries chemicals and contaminants into the water. One great way to prevent this from happening is by planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses along the water’s edge. Plants added to the edge of your property act as a natural buffer to slow and absorb polluted runoff before it can flow into the creek. If you're concerned about interrupting your waterfront view, just plant low grasses and shrubs, which will have the same pollution-absorbing benefits as tall trees.
Check out last week’s Question of the Week: What are the best native plants for this area? for links and information to help you figure out the best native plants to use and where you can purchase them.
Other simple things to do on your waterfront property include picking up your pet's waste, using fertilizer and pesticides sparingly (or not at all), and using electric-powered lawn mowers and tools as opposed to gas-powered ones. Each of these are simple ways to limit the amount of pollution and nutrients that enter your creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Finally, remember to share your efforts with neighbors, family and friends so they, too, can learn what they can do to make a difference.
Visit the Bay Program's website for more things you can do to help the Bay in your backyard. Remember, you don't have to spend a lot to do a lot. Every little step you can take to do your part can make a difference!