Imagine the life of a lowly raindrop. It comes hurtling down from the sky with millions of its brothers and sisters, bounces off of a rooftop, then hits the street, picking up dirt, oil and other pollution before getting shunted into a maze of basins, ditches and pipes, traveling all through our community before being released into the nearest river or stream.
Only 3% of water on earth is freshwater and 2/3 of that water is frozen in glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use. Our rainwater is a precious, freshwater resource that is often treated like a waste product. We spend millions of dollars each year to build and maintain systems to transport rainwater and snow melt away from our homes, businesses, schools, roads and recreation areas, most often to a storm drain that empties directly into a river or stream.
As rainwater and snowmelt move toward a storm drain, they pick up all different kinds of contaminants. Fluids from leaky cars like motor oil and antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, lawn debris and plain old trash are all swept into the storm drain and deposited into a nearby river or stream. This kind of pollution, called nonpoint-source pollution, is the biggest source of water pollution today.
The Conservation Foundation believes that individual actions can make a big impact on how much rainwater is transported to storm sewer systems and the quality of water released into our rivers and streams. Following are areas in which humans can make tremendous strides in water conservation:
Using Rain as a Resource
Managing Snow and Ice
Things Everyone Can Do to Save and Protect Water Resources
Schoolhouse Rock Video about clean rivers and watersheds