March officially proclaimed St. Johns River Month by Mayor Brown

Protecting the river begins at home

It’s officially St. Johns River Month, as proclaimed by Mayor Alvin Brown and the 18th annual St. Johns River Cleanup & Celebration on Saturday, Mar. 16, is Jacksonville’s kick-off event for the Florida Great American Cleanup. Even if you’re not a swimmer, boater or otherwise lover of our waterways, cleaning up the St. Johns doesn’t just include picking up trash along the shoreline of the river and its tributaries.

Protecting our river begins at our homes and businesses and involves preventing trash and pollution from reaching our waterways in the first place.
Stormwater that runs off rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and streets picks up litter, debris, motor oil, lawn chemicals and pet waste along the way, before entering storm drains and our river and its tributaries – untreated. Fortunately, there are many ways to be River Friendly to prevent stormwater, protect our river and enhance our community.

• Create a River Friendly Yard. Use less fertilizer and chemicals and plant native or drought-tolerant plants to reduce runoff and help prevent algal blooms and fish kills in the St. Johns.
• Allow only rain down the drain. Keep gutters and storm drains free of litter, lawn clippings, leaves, fertilizers, and chemicals. Storm drains lead directly to the river.  Clogged drains can also contribute to problems with flooding.
• Slow it down. Redirect downspouts to discharge water onto grassy areas, gardens or beds where it can soak into the ground instead of running off of driveways and sidewalks into storm drains.
• Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels conserve water and help prevent runoff that can wash fertilizers and chemicals down storm drains and into our waterways.
• Avoid toxic chemicals. Chemicals can enter our river or groundwater when they leak, are poured or flushed down the drain or toilet, or are discarded into a landfill. In Jacksonville, take household hazardous waste and e-waste to the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 2675 Commonwealth Ave. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, call (904) 387-8847.
• Scoop the poop. Our pets’ waste can wash into waterways and contribute to the fecal bacteria pollution problem in our creeks.
• Maintain vehicles. Leaking fluids can wash into our waterways. Keep your vehicles running efficiently to reduce air pollution and prevent leaks.
• Use water wisely. Install low-flow fixtures in our houses or businesses, fix leaks, and water lawns and plants only when needed.
• Plant a tree. Trees reduce stormwater runoff by capturing and storing rainfall, improve air quality, reduce heating and cooling costs, provide wildlife habitat, increase property values and beautify the neighborhood.
Learn more River Friendly tips by visiting www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/river-friendly.

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