The many causes to non point source pollution in the suburban area include:
Suburban landscapes are covered by paved surfaces like sidewalks, parking
lots, roads, and driveways. They prevent water from percolating down into
the ground, cause runoff to accumulate, and funnel into storm drains at
high speeds. When quickly flowing runoff empties into receiving waters,
it can severely erode stream banks.
Paved surfaces also transfer heat to runoff, thereby increasing the temperature
of receiving waters. Native species of fish and other aquatic life cannot
survive in these warmer waters.
Altering the natural contours of yards during landscaping and planting
with non-native plants that need fertilizer and extra water can increase
the potential for higher runoff volumes, increase erosion, and introduce
chemicals into the path of runoff.
Malfunctioning or overflowing septic systems release bacteria and nutrients
into the water cycle, contaminating nearby lakes, streams, and estuaries,
and ground water.
Household cleaners, grease, oil, plastics, and some food or paper products
should not be flushed down drains or washed down the street. Over time
chemicals can corrode septic system pipes and might not be completely removed
during the filtration process. Chemicals poured down the drain can also
interfere with the chemical and biological breakdown of the wastes in the
A residential neighborhood
Last Modified: October 2000