Five things anyone can do to help protect our rivers

“Ohio” by US Department of State is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cuyahoga River has seen a dramatic turnaround in health since its infamous burning in 1969. 

While legislation that sprung from the fire’s notoriety, like the establishment of the Clean Water Act, as well as the regulation of corporations are the largest factors in its improvement, there are still several things those who live on or near rivers can do to help prevent pollution and continue the river’s upward trajectory.

Some of these are fairly intuitive, like making sure to dispose of garbage in proper receptacles and not just throwing it into the river. Other suggestions are easy to incorporate into daily routine with a little thought. Five things you can do to help river health include:

  1. Minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides on gardens and lawns. This lowers the chance that harmful chemicals will runoff into water systems. Organic alternatives to traditional lawn care products are a good way to prevent harmful runoff, as well as having more plants in your yard.
  2. Watch what you pour down the drain. Certain medications and cleaning liquids can have harsh effects of natural water systems, so try to dispose of them through the proper channels.
  3. Initiate a river clean up. Gather a group of friends and spend an afternoon picking up harmful materials, like plastics and litter from the river banks. 
  4. Pick up your pet’s poop. Pet waste can contain bacterial substances that tamper with water quality, in some cases. 
  5. If you own or operate a boat along the river, perform frequent checks to make sure the boat is functioning properly, so that it doesn’t leak substances along your journey. 

Taking personal responsibility for your role in the river’s health is an important step in maintaining and improving the river that once caught flame.

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