What You Can Do To Help

"Only Rain Down the Drain!"

By taking a few simple steps, we can do a great deal to clean up our streams and rivers, improve fish and wildlife habitats, and protect our drinking water supply.

Here are some helpful tips for preventing stormwater pollution and contamination.

Lawn Care

    Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly and according to the directions.

    Do not fertilize if rain is forecasted within the next 48 hours.

    Select native plants and grasses that are drought-tolerant and pest-resistant.

    Compost or recycle yard waste.

    Cover piles of dirt/mulch to prevent them from flowing into storm drains.

    Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing areas.

    Plant grass and/or vegetation where soil is exposed.

Trash & Other Debris

    Dispose of cigarette butts and other litter in garbage receptacles.

    Pitch in and help clean up littered areas.

    Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris (e.g., concrete and mortar).

Hazardous Substances

    Use hazardous substances (paints, solvents, cleaners, etc.) in the smallest quantities possible.

    Store substances properly.

    Clean water-based painting supplies over soil.

    Filter and reuse paint thinner.

    Discard excess paints during household waste collection programs.

    Clean up all spills immediately.

    Dispose of solvent waste according to the instructions printed on the label.

    Participate in the City of Cohoes Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day each spring.

Pet Waste Disposal

    Pet waste contains coliform bacteria and poses health risks to people and pets, so it is important not to let it get transported by rainfall into storm drains.

    Scoop up pet waste and flush it down the toilet.

Swimming Pools

    Drain your pool only when the test kit detects no chlorine levels.

    Store pool and spa chemicals properly in order to prevent leaks and spills.

Septic Systems

    Have your septic system inspected by a professional every three years.

    Pump your tank as necessary (every 3-5 years).

    Care for the septic leach field by not driving over it or parking vehicles on it.

    Do not dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets.

Vehicle Maintenance & Repair

    Use a commercial car wash or, if possible, wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface to reduce the amount of dirty, soapy water flowing into the storm drain, culvert, or ditch.

    Check your vehicle (car, boat, motorcycle, etc.) and other machinery for leaks and spills.

    Clean up oil and chemical spills with an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sand.

    Never dispose of oil or other engine fluids in the storm drain, culvert, ditch, trash, or on the ground. Recycle these fluids at participating service stations.


    Collect roof water in rain barrels and reuse it for watering your lawn and/or garden. See our Stormwater Links page for further information.

    Direct gutter downspouts to a well vegetated area, perhaps a rain garden. Lawns will soak up most of the water and filter out the pollutants.

    Disconnect your gutter system from the storm drainage system where possible.