JeffCoH2O: Trash Floats!


When we talk about litter, we usually refer to solid waste that is improperly discarded along roadways and in communities.  But the impact of litter can go far beyond where it is dropped or thrown.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know that whatever is on the ground can be washed by rain, carried through the storm drainage system, and emptied into the nearest waterway.  Take a walk along Turkey Creek or any of our local creeks right after a heavy rain, and you will find a surprising array of items such as plastic drink bottles, aluminum cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags, fast food wrappers, and sports equipment that have taken that journey.  Besides being unsightly, litter in waterways can be harmful to aquatic animals as well as humans. Objects with sharp edges can cut, plastic bags and containers can trap or entangle, cigarettes and other materials can leach chemicals into the water, and decaying food can attract vermin.  Of even greater concern are the pollutants which are not so easily seen, such as fertilizers, pesticides and motor oil which wash from yards, streets, and parking lots.

Just as trash and pollutants on the ground don’t always stay there, the same principle applies to trash and pollutants in waterways.  During the summer, we sometimes hear about beach closures and the negative health and economic impacts they create.  These news stories rarely mention that some of the trash and pollutants that wind up on beaches come from rivers, creeks and streams that drain to the ocean.

Those of you who live near a beautiful waterway such as Turkey Creek have a special perspective on the effects that trash and other pollutants have on waterways.  Consider using your love for this creek to create a legacy of watershed stewardship.  Whenever you have the opportunity, teach the young people in your life how to prevent stormwater pollution and preserve the integrity of Turkey Creek.

What’s Happening?

Pollution Prevention Week – September 14 – 20 – Litter isn’t the only pollutant threatening our waterways.  Everything exposed to rain is a potential source of pollution!  What pollutants are lurking at your home?

SepticSmart Week – September 21-27 – Find out how to maintain your septic system to keep it working properly and reduce the chance of raw sewage entering your yard, home, or local waterways.

Step Away from the Spray! – September 27 – Come out to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens 11am – 1pm and learn how to manage mosquitos and other backyard bugs using birds, bats and other natural methods.  Free mosquito prevention kits and other helpful items will be available to assist you in controlling these pesky pests in an environmentally friendly way.  For more information, call 205.325.8741.


Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203


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