City of Lake Wales Florida
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City of Lake Wales, Florida Utilities Department
Lake Wales Utilities

The water that flows into our streets and storm drains from rainstorms, garden hoses, sprinklers or other water sources is called STORMWATER. This water NEVER goes to a wastewater treatment plant to be cleaned. It flows directly into our lakes, carrying with it pollutants from yards, streets, driveways and other impermeable surfaces.

Stormwater pollution is caused by such toxins and pollutants as used motor oil, antifreeze, paints, fertilizers, pet waste and pesticides that are washed into the storm drains. It is the number one source of pollution in our nation's urban waters today.

If you and your family enjoy swimming, fishing or other recreational activities in Central Florida’s lakes, you should be concerned about stormwater pollution. If you appreciate the birds and other wildlife that nest and feed around the shores of our lakes, you should be concerned about stormwater pollution. By preventing stormwater pollution, we can all do something to protect our lakes and their ecosystems.

Prevent Stormwater Pollution in Your Garage

Vehicle Maintenance

Service vehicles regularly to help prevent leaks and reduce emissions.

Use a professional car wash when possible.

When washing cars, use minimal amounts of biodegradable, phosphate free detergent. Keep in mind that biodegradable doesn't mean that the product is entirely pollutant-free. It simply means that it takes a shorter amount of time for that product to break down.

Wash cars on grass or gravel in order to allow the materials to filter through the vegetation or soil instead of running off yards, into gutters and down storm drains.

Use water efficient devices on garden hoses. Empty the soap bucket into the toilet or sink instead of streets and gutters.

Baking soda paste is a non-toxic substance which can be used to clean battery heads, cable clamps, and chrome. Add a mild, biodegradable dish washing soap to the paste to clean wheels and tires. White vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water works well for cleaning windows.

To keep air conditioning seals from cracking and leaking freon, run the air conditioner at least once every two weeks.

Disposal Practices

Never dispose of gasoline, used oil, or other automotive products in the gutters, storm drains, sinks or toilets.

Take these products to a facility that recycles hazardous waste. For information about hazardous waste recycling, call Polk County Solid Waste at (863)-284-4319.

Absorb any spills in the garage with kitty litter, sawdust or corn meal. Dispose of the materials from a small spill by placing them in a plastic bag and throwing them in the trash.

When buying a new car battery, take the old one to the retailer. Florida law requires retailers to accept them. Any local hazardous waste collection events will also take them.

Car wax and automotive fluids have long shelf lives. Store them in airtight containers and use them completely instead of disposing of them.

Prevent Stormwater Pollution in Your Garden

General Practices

Grow various flowering plants to provide nutrients for beneficial natural pest predators, such as birds, ladybugs, lacewings, toads and garden snakes.

Remove ivy, standing water, animals wastes and rotting fruit, and manually remove eggs, larvae and cocoons to reduce the amount of pest occurrence.

Naturally eliminate snails by collecting them in an over-turned, propped up clay pot, or in shallow pans of stale beer. Prime times for this collection are in the Spring and late Fall.

Water the lawn early or late in the day and use water efficient devices. Check sprinklers for proper operation to eliminate runoff into streets and storm drains.

Make natural fertilizer by composting garden trimmings. Practice "grasscycling", or composting grass clippings.

Do not blow or rake leaves into streets because they will eventually wash into storm drains. Place into bags or containers for pick up on yard waste collection day.

Collect lawn and garden clippings, pruning waste and tree trimmings. Bundle or place into bags or containers for pick up on yard waste collection day.

Protect stockpiles and landscaping materials from wind and rain by storing them under tarps or secured plastic sheeting.

Prevent erosion by cutting the grass frequently and leaving at least two inches of the blade; this encourages deeper root growth which holds the soil in place.

Schedule grading and excavation projects during dry weather seasons. Prevent dirt from going into streets and storm drains.

Chemical Use

READ THE LABELS and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS carefully when using insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

Look for less-toxic products such as biological pesticides, oil sprays and insecticidal soaps. And remember, more is not always better.

Use chemicals sparingly and never use them around water, drains, bare ground, or if rain is predicted within the next 24 hours.

Avoid spills and don't rinse them away if they do occur. Absorb them with sawdust or kitty litter and dispose of the absorbent from larger spills to a hazardous waste collection event.

Avoid using copper sulfate root killing products.

Use up pesticides completely. Rinse the containers and use the rinse water as a diluted product. Dispose of clean containers in the trash, or recycle if possible.

Dispose of unused pesticides as a hazardous waste.

Store pesticides, fertilizers, chlorine and other chemicals indoors or in a shed or storage cabinet.

Prevent Stormwater Pollution in Your Home

Household Maintenance

Always read labels carefully before buying household cleaning and maintenance products. Know that ingredients range in classification of level of toxicity from CAUTION, which means least toxic, to WARNING and finally, to DANGER or POISON. A symbol of a skull and cross-bones also refers to high toxicity. Avoid buying products displaying the labels representing extremely toxic ingredients.

Use safe, less toxic alternative cleaners such as baking soda, salt, borax, vinegar, water or elbow grease.

Choose water-based paints instead of oil-based paints. Don't use any paint over 15 years old since it may contain lead.

To minimize waste and spills, use products carefully and store them in heavy duty, air-tight containers.

Flush drains with boiling water instead of using potentially hazardous chemical drain cleaners.

Buy products made from renewable resources and recycle all substances that are non-biodegradable.

Disposal Practices

Never pour toxic paints, preservatives, brush cleaners, solvents or anything else into gutters or down the storm drains, sinks or toilets. Take them to hazardous waste disposal facilities or find out about local collection events by calling Polk County Solid Waste at (863) 284-4319.

Only buy amount needed and use all of the product. Otherwise, give unused portions to a neighbor instead of throwing it away.

Let paint particles settle out of paint thinner in a closed jar. Pour out the clear liquid for future use and dispose of the waste by wrapping it in newspaper and throwing it away.

Prevent Stormwater Pollution Outside Your Home

General Practices

Runoff from gutters and other sources should be directed onto grass and gravel to slow the velocity of water running into the storm system and naturally filter the water.

Increase the amount of permeable surfaces around your home. Use wooden decking, bricks or stones for driveways, walkways and other outdoor areas, instead of solid paving.

To eliminate the need for chemical control of termites, pile wood away from the house.

Disposal Practices

Never discharge pool or spa water to a storm drain. Chlorinated water is toxic to fish in our lakes and wildlife around our lake shores . It must be disposed of through the sanitary sewer system. If unable to locate cleanout, contact the Utility Department 678-4182 for assistance.

Do not dispose of pet waste in the storm drain. Pick up after pets and dispose of wastes in the toilet or garbage.

Free Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events are available for the disposal of hazardous waste periodically. Contact Polk County Solid Waste at (863) 284-4319 for information.

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