Public Involvement and Participation
How can I protect our waterways to ensure they don't become polluted? Here are some great programs and guides to get started!
Habitat Stewardship Program
This program is a partnership program with Pierce County Conservation District (PCD). PCD helps administer and oversee the program. For more information, please visit the Habitat Steward Program webpage.
Habitat Restoration Volunteer Program
This volunteer program focuses on the removal of invasive or noxious weeds and replacing invasive species with native vegetation. For current volunteer opportunities, please visit the Habitat Steward Program webpage.
Citizen's Guide to Protecting Our Waters
Protecting our water resources starts with each person, home, building, and work site. Our stormwater systems do not always treat the water, they are simply a series of pipes and ditches that convey water directly to our streams, creeks, and river.
Read how illegal discharges and polluted stormwater affect our waterways and ways you can help reduce this pollution by disconnecting from the stormwater system, properly draining your pool or hot tub, not feeding ducks at the park, properly disposing of yard waste, and practicing Fish-Friendly Car Washing!
How Can I Improve Water Quality?
Knowledge is power! What is stormwater management to citizens? It is knowing what stormwater is, and how your actions affect our community, streams, and river. Here are some things to keep in mind as you watch the rain fall (all too often) in the City of Puyallup.
Know where your storm drains are: Watch where the runoff goes from the rain, and you will see where the drain is. Usual places are near intersections and curbs, but they can be in parking lots as well. Some drains have the words "Drains to Stream" imprinted in the metal and many Puyallup drains have our Only Rain Down the Drain markers. Eventually, most stormwater enters our waterways.
Pick up debris and trash: This helps prevent any litter from entering the storm drains. It will also prevent clogging, which can lead to flooding and possible contamination.
Get your permits: If constructing a new development or improving your house, make sure you have the proper permits. There are checklists that can help you make sure you are complying with local, state, and federal laws. If you have questions, please contact Development and Permitting Services.
BMPs: When working on a project, make sure to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs). Erosion control, excessive water, and runoff can cause unpredicted problems if not planned for. You should know what you are required to do, so you will not violate any City, State, or Federal regulations or policies.
Garden naturally: Try to reduce the use of chemicals in your yard and garden. There are many organic products available today as well as an alternative way to garden naturally. Read about natural yard care.
Report Violators: Be aware of possible violators and report them. You are our best resource in making sure everyone complies with our laws. Some people illegally dump waste (like oil and chemicals) down storm drains (especially after regular City office hours). We cannot stop contamination from entering the rivers, streams, and creeks if we are unaware of the problems. Please call the Spill Hotline call at 253-770-3336. 911 should only be used to report situations where there is a threat to public safety or health. They will then determine what action needs to be taken.
Recycle: Nearly anything can be recycled - even used motor oil! You can contact your local auto parts dealer for more information about recycling. Reducing or reusing our waste is great for our environment and future generations.
Illicit discharge: An illicit discharge to the stormwater system is anything other than....stormwater! So, what is stormwater? Stormwater is rainwater or snowmelt that does infiltrate into the ground but instead runs off our streets, rooftops, lawns, and other impervious surfaces. Illicit discharges are harmful whether they are intentional or not. Knowing what is supposed to go down the storm drain, is powerful knowledge!
Draining Pool & Spa Water
While your swimming pool or spa filter backwash is illegal to purge into the stormwater drains, it is also against city ordinance to drain your chlorinated pool or spa water into the stormwater drains. The current City of Puyallup Ordinance No. 2938 identifies chlorinated water, chlorine, and bromine as illicit discharges to stormwater drains.
Remember, stormwater drains are different than the sanitary sewer. The sanitary sewer is where the water from inside your home (sinks, showers, commodes) flows to for treatment at our water treatment facilities. The stormwater drains are where the rainwater goes and where the runoff from your roof or lawn flows (which is not always a good thing!...read more about this on our rain gardens page).
When you’re ready to empty your pool or spa, follow the following steps (or these Best Management Practices) to ensure that you are abiding by local ordinances as well as helping to minimize your impact on local streams and lakes.
Note: These procedures apply to those households who are connected to the city sewer and not for those on septic.
If chlorinated: Allow the water to sit for at least 2 full days after the last addition of chlorine or bromine. Then test to make sure the chlorine levels are at 0.1 ppm or less and the pH level is neutral. Empty the water to the following locations (in order of city preference):
- Lawn area - The soil will filter out most chemicals and pollutants remaining in the water. This should only be done in the summer when groundwater levels are low and will not have any adverse impacts to neighboring properties.
- Household sink or bathtub - Yes, seriously! Run the garden hose between your pool and your sink or tub and start the flow! This will direct the water to the sanitary sewers.
- Sanitary sewer cleanout - Locate your sanitary sewer cleanout for your house (pictured - yours may be black or green in color) and run your hose from the pool to there. Do not open or remove a sewer manhole cover. It is dangerous and is not recommended!
- Stormwater drain - If the above options are not plausible for any reason, feel free to contact us via email, to help you locate a good place to drain your water. Otherwise, if your water has been sufficiently de-chlorinated, empty the water in a slow, controlled flow to the stormwater drain. Ensuring slow and controlled flow will help to reduce the damage to the stream beds that this water flows into.
Don't Feed the Ducks!
You may enjoy watching or even feeding the ducks at DeCoursey Pond or Clark's Creek Park. What you may not know is that feeding the ducks contributes to water pollution. When ducks get food from people as a regular food source, they tend to stick around and grow in numbers. This means more duck poo on the ground and in the water. Fecal coliform from duck poo is one of the major pollutants in DeCoursey Pond and Clark's Creek. In addition to the bacteria itself, fecal coliform contributes to higher in-water temperatures and other pollution cycles which can harm the local fish population. Fecal Coliform is a documented problem in Clarks Creek and the Puyallup River. For more information, please visit the Clarks Creek TMDL and Puyallup River TMDL webpages.
Read more on the Department of Fish and Wildlife website about how to prevent conflicts with wildlife.
Natural Yard Care
Save money, save resources, have a beautiful landscape, and protect Puget Sound waters...all at the same time!
The City of Puyallup Website offers tips and resources for caring for your yard naturally and reducing stormwater runoff pollution at home. While homeowners strive for a picture-perfect yard, lawn, and landscaping, most also don't want to wash their "money down the drain." Learning to follow a few, simple yard care guidelines for watering, planting, and fertilizing/feeding will help your yard, your pocketbook, and protect our natural water resources!
Natural Yard Care Resources
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - EPA webpages on environmental stewardship
WSU Master Gardener Program: Stewardship Gardening
Puyallup's Rain Gardens - cost-share program to install rain gardens, permeable pavement, and rain barrels
What to Do With Fido's Poo?
That little plastic baggie that you use to scoop up your pet's waste may be useful on the go but at home it may be excessive. Plastic bags take many years to decompose at landfills. Keep picking up the poo though, because if it is left in the yard, it washes away with the rain or irrigation and into our stormwater system and streams. Yuck. Try placing the poo in the waste can without a plastic baggie, use biodegradable baggies or paper bags, or flush it!
Fecal Coliform is a documented problem in Clarks Creek and the Puyallup River. For more information, please visit the Clarks Creek TMDL and Puyallup River TMDL webpages.
Impact of a Single Tree
Check out the National Tree Benefit Calculator and see the impact a single tree can make. A tree planted at home can increase your property value and provide several environmental benefits.
Stormwater Runoff Is Polluting Puget Sound
You've heard that Puget Sound is polluted, right? Think about this: nearly 75% of the pollutants in Puget Sound come from stormwater runoff. That's water from irrigating our yards carrying pesticides and fertilizer, driveways carrying oil-based products and soap from residential car washing, and many other pollutants.
As many as 23 pesticides have been found in Puget Sound streams - many coming from stormwater runoff from roadways and yards. These chemicals poison wildlife and absorb oxygen in water, contributing to dead zones.
Disposal of Yard Waste
Yard waste should be disposed of in a manner that is legal and does not affect water quality. So how should you dispose of your yard waste? Sign up for yard waste service through the city’s contracted garbage service provider. For more information on yard waste service visit the Garbage Service Webpage.
Start a backyard composting pile. Composting transforms yard waste into valuable amended soils. Amended soils are rich in nutrients and can be used in your yard once the composting process is completed. For more information on composting see WSU’s Guide to Backyard Composting.
Do not dump your yard waste in open spaces, stormwater facilities, other city facilities, or a neighboring property. This is not only illegal, but grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste contain nitrogen and phosphorus that provide excess nutrients to fuel the growth of weeds and harmful algae bloom that are toxic to humans and animals. Excess algae and aquatic plants in a water body can also lead to oxygen depletion and the death of aquatic life.
Stormwater-Friendly Moss Removal
Most homeowners in the Pacific Northwest can name those areas in their yards (or on their roofs) that exist as perpetual moss-loving areas. With shady yards and our wet climate, moss always finds a way to grow.
Pressure washing or scrubbing moss from patios, decks, roofs, or driveways is a preferred approach. However, some homeowners find chemical applications easier to control. Chemicals can be suitable solutions but take a minute to think about the warnings on the labels: do not spray on lawns, plants, or other organic surfaces. Why? These chemicals, including at-home baking soda solutions or bleach, will kill your plants and lawn. Now think about what these chemicals do in the stormwater system, and in the streams and rivers they connect with.
If you choose to use chemicals for cleaning and treating your moss growth, please avoid washing these chemicals into the streets and storm drains. If you are spraying your roof with chemicals such as a moss-be-gone product, disconnect your downspouts when spraying. Gutter downspouts on many homes are connected to your home’s drainage system, which connects to the stormwater system. Stormwater runoff - including rainwater, irrigation runoff, or car-wash water - can lead directly into our local streams and rivers.
Zinc powder or zinc sulfate, which is often found in moss removal products, is a chemical element that reacts negatively with organic materials. The application of chemical moss removal does not only “shock” the moss it also negatively affects other plants, organisms, and organics when washed into the ecosystem. Zinc sulfide is insoluble in water, so it stays suspended on the water's surface and makes its way to nearby lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans. Once it reaches a waterbody it harms species that are the foundation of the environment, which include, invertebrates (worms, snails), barnacles, insects, amphibians (Lizards and Frogs), and fish.
No matter which method you use - pressure washing, scrubbing, or chemical applications -the moss will return sooner or later. Save the health of our local streams and rivers, nix the chemicals, and take an environmentally friendly approach to moss-removal