What is the Pledge?
The Pledge for Clean Water is a community-wide effort to protect water resources in Tompkins County. It involves no money. It simply asks for 15 minutes of your time to learn about stormwater pollution and identify steps that you can take to help keep our lakes, streams and drinking water clean. Your pledge is a commitment to the environment, your health and your neighbors' health. Plus, your steps to protect water resources today will benefit future generations depending on clean water!
Tompkins County residents who take the Pledge will receive a locally designed magnet in recognition of their contributions to keeping our waters clean. Anyone who takes the Pledge will receive a complimentary copy of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network newsletter.
Ready? Then take the Pledge for Clean Water now!
If you want to learn more first, read on...
Water is always on the move.
Under natural conditions, rainwater and snowmelt – also called stormwater - disperse in a number of ways: soaking into the soil, evaporating, nourishing plants and eventually making their way to groundwater, streams and lakes. Natural landscapes lush with trees, shrubs and plants play an important role in slowing the water's flow and filtering out pollutants. When we alter natural landscapes, we alter these services, frequently causing problems with water quality and quantity.Streets, roofs, parking lots and other hard, non-porous surfaces repel water instead of absorb it. Water repelled by these surfaces, and pollutants whisked away by that water, rush into roadside ditches, storm drains and culverts that dump it directly into our streams and lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a typical city block generates over five times more stormwater runoff than a woodland area of the same size.
As stormwater increases in volume and speed, it can erode stream banks, degrade aquatic habitat and threaten streamside property. As stormwater moves across the land's surface, it also picks up soil, excess nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen, animal waste, pathogens, toxic chemicals, motor fluids and trash. The vast majority of stormwater flows untreated into streams, lakes or groundwater.
Stormwater runoff and the pollutants it carries can cause problems in the following areas:
Polluted stormwater runoff is a concern for water quality across the United States. To address this concern, a federal regulation, commonly known as "Stormwater Phase II," went into effect in 1999. In New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for administering this law. Under this law, several municipalities in Tompkins County are required to implement stormwater management programs. The law requires that these municipalities do the following:
1) Conduct outreach and education about polluted stormwater runoff.
2) Provide opportunities for residents to be involved in conversations and activities related to stormwater management.
3) Detect illicit discharges, such as a pipe dumping directly into a stream.
4) Control construction site runoff.
5) Control post-construction runoff.
6) Perform "municipal housekeeping" by taking steps to prevent runoff from municipal grounds and activities.
Treating contaminated water is expensive and often ineffective. Prevention is the cheapest, most effective solution to water pollution! Learn how you can slow the flow of stormwater and keep our streams, lakes and drinking water clean.
Take the Pledge for Clean Water now!
The Pledge for Clean Water accompanies the publication Smart Steps to Clean Water (PDF 2.2MB) produced by the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network. A joint production of the Stormwater Coalition of Tompkins County, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, the Pledge was created with funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The pledge was modeled after the Whatcom County Watersheds Pledge program in Washington State, created by the City of Bellingham, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, and the Washington Department of Ecology.