Taunton River Watershed: Things You Can Do Today

15 Things You Can Do Today!

Each of us has an impact on our local water supplies, both in terms of water quality and the amount of water we use (or waste!) in times of drought. Here are 15 simple things you can do to help protect our water quality and conserve water. By taking these actions, you can help ensure that we have enough clean water to meet our needs for generations to come.



1.) Consider phasing out your antibacterial soaps and cleaning products.

During the pandemic, demand for antibacterial cleansers soared. However, most of these contain trichlosan, a registered pesticide that has been found to harm aquatic life. The American Medical Association warns that our use of antibacterial agents may lead to “superbugs” that will be antibiotic resistant. Regular soap and water kill germs just as effectively.

2.) Never flush unwanted or out-of-date medicines down the toilet or the drain.

Find a waste medication kiosk near you, where you can safely dispose of expired or unneeded prescription drugs. Massachusetts maintains a list HERE. If you can’t make it to a kiosk, remove all labels and wrap the products up before disposing in the garbage. If possible, pour water or vinegar in the bottle to destroy pills and make them inaccessible to children.


3.) Safely manage hazardous household products.

Many chemicals, materials, and products commonly found in the home are toxic and can be harmful to your health and our environment, including the local watershed, because they never break down (or take a VERY long time to). Learn how to handle these items with care and recycle or dispose of them responsibly HERE. There is a particular growing concern over perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (commonly referred to as PFAS). Products containing PFAS such as teflon, Gore-tex and ScotchGuard should be avoided altogether.


4.) Don’t put anything except water down stormdrains.

These drains carry storm water directly to our local waterways. Storm water that drains to the Canoe River is NOT treated first. Used motor oil, detergents, lawn fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants get carried by stormwater to local waterways and cause unnecessary harm. Be sure to keep lawn clippings, leaves, trash, pet waste and bags, and debris out of storm drains too. 

5.) Take care of your vehicles.

Fix leaks that drip from your car or other mechanical equipment (like lawn mowers) and put down a liner in your driveway to collect oil and other materials. These leaks and drips contribute to stormwater pollution. Also, consider washing your car at a carwash with water recycling, rather than washing it on your driveway.


6.) Avoid using pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

They pose a serious threat to your health and safety and pollute both ground and surface water. If you must use them, use only the minimum amount necessary and be sure to properly store materials to avoid leaks. Consider alternative ground cover to lawns that require less water and chemicals or let a portion of your lawn grow wild. Also consider integrated pest management strategies instead of using pesticides.


7.) Choose non-toxic household products whenever possible.

The best way to keep from polluting is to use products that are not dangerous to the environment in the first place. For some suggestions of such alternatives, visit HERE.


8.) Pick up after your pets.

Like other contaminants, pet waste can run down the storm drains, spreading bacteria.

garden photo- martin unsplash

9.) Minimize pavement and maximize plantings on your property.

The more pavement there is, the more rainwater will simply run off to storm drains, picking up pollutants on the way, causing flooding, and exacerbating drought. Allowing water to soak into the ground can prevent flooding, recharge groundwater supplies, and dilute contaminants. Planting native plants and trees that do not require much water also helps save our precious supplies and keep our groundwater clean.


10.) Protect water bodies on your property.

Do you have a pond, river, stream or wetland on or adjacent to your property? You can make a huge impact on water quality and habitat if you stop mowing and let the areas next to the water bodies and wetlands “re-wild” with a vegetated buffer. In general, the wider the buffer the better, but even a buffer as small at 20 feet can make a difference. Fertilizers and pesticides should be minimized in these areas or not used at all. The SNEP Network The SNEP Network has a buffer restoration guide available for more information.

11.) Plant rain gardens to filter polluted runoff.

To learn more about creating rain gardens for your yard, visit HERE. Direct your downspouts to your rain gardens, grass, or other soft ground, and away from pavement. Consider pairing your rain garden with a rain barrel.

12.) Upgrade your shower heads.

Install water-efficient shower heads. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you hundreds of gallons of water a month.

13.) Maintain your Septic System.

Have the system inspected and pumped every 3 to 5 years. Learn more about proper septic system maintenance HERE. When it’s time for a new system, consider one that removes more nitrogen than a standard system.

14.) Recycle yard waste

Recycle yard waste and food scraps in a compost pile and use a mulching mower. Learn more HERE.

15.) Keep informed.

Make sure you receive your annual drinking water quality report from your water provider (also known as a Consumer Confidence Report). If you pay a water bill directly, you should receive it automatically each year. If you rent or live in a condo, you can call your local water provider and ask for a copy to be sent to you.