Protect the Beach

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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Are you one of the millions of people making their way to the beach this year?  Beaches provide opportunities to play volleyball, run, relax, swim and do many other activities, but beach closures can put a damper on summer fun. Beach closures occur in coastal areas throughout the United States – according to EPA’s 2012 Beach Report, 40 percent of monitored beaches had at least one advisory or closure during the 2012 season.  Several factors contribute to beach closures, including excess nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient pollution from rain water runoff and leaking septic systems.

Viewer Tip: Whether you live on the beach or thousands of miles away, there are easy ways you can help protect coastal water quality at home.

Keep your septic system maintained. For typical septic systems, experts recommend a professional inspection every three years and a pump-out every three to five years.  Some systems may require more frequent maintenance. Leaking septic systems can contaminate ground and surface water with excess nutrients.
Use natural substances like compost to fertilize your gardens and lawns. 
This allows you to cut-down on the use of regular fertilizers, which contain nitrogen that can be carried away with rain water during the next storm.
Always pick up after your pet at home and on walks.
 Pet waste contains nutrients and bacteria that can degrade water quality. Throw the waste away in a trash can or pet waste receptacle.

Earth Gauge

    Photo: St. George Island, FL; Commander Grady Tuell, NOAA Corps

    (Sources:  EPA, “EPA’s Beach Report: 2012 Swimming Season.”)