What You Can Do To Help the Environment
Our Actions at Home
There are many ways in which residents can help at home to preserve the natural environment. Most of Lake Forest Park's pollution comes from:
- Failing septic systems
- Leaking vehicles
- Improper fertilizer application on lawns and gardens
- Car washing
- Improper disposal of animal waste
- Inappropriate disposal of chemicals and hazardous waste
- Construction runoff
Why Our Actions Make a Difference
Lake Forest Park offers an abundance of natural beauty and each day residents work hard to preserve it. In our busy, everyday lives, it is sometimes easy to forget that our individual actions at home make an impact on the community at large.
Every time you make the right choice to reduce chemicals at home or to visit a commercial car wash, your actions make a difference and ultimately positively influence your community.
Reducing Harmful Chemicals at Home
Chemical Use and Disposal
The proper use and disposal of chemicals is very important to your health. Many household chemicals are very harmful, especially if they are released into streams and/or lakes. The proper use and disposal of chemicals is required by law.
For information and guidance as to how to use and dispose of chemicals and hazardous waste, please visit the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program page.
Education & Resources
The City of Lake Forest Park works hard to offer its citizens education and information regarding chemical use and overall chemical reduction in the home. There are many resources available to assist residents in reducing their chemical loads. Some of these resources include:
- The WA Department of Ecology Toxic Free Tips Recipe Booklet
- Chemicals and Hazards A-Z Information
- Learn the Issues: Chemicals, Pesticides and Toxics
- Take Back Your Meds Program
Pet Waste Disposal
Did you know that pet waste is one of the main sources of water pollution in urban waterways? Not only does it harm aquatic life and degrade overall water quality, but it poses a health risk to our children who play in our neighborhood streams. Lake Forest Park is home to both McAleer and Lyon Creeks and it is our job to protect them.
So pick up after your pet and remember: scoop it, bag it, and trash it! The City recommends using compostable bags to pick up pet waste as long as residents remember to throw used pet waste bags in the trash. Visit the Washington State Department of Ecology pet waste page for additional information.
Want to share this message with your family? Watch Puget Sound Starts Here's "Dog Doogity" video.
Clean Storm Drains Help:
- Prevent localized flooding
- Keep our local waterways free of trash and debris
- Reduce the possibility of pollutants entering our waterways
The City works to keep storm drains clear, but with close to 1,800 drains in Lake Forest Park, we could use your help. Storm drains are normally rectangular grates with slats typically located near the edge of the street. They collect water which then flows directly to the nearest stream or lake. The water that enters the storm drains is not treated.
Volunteer By Storm Drain Labeling or Adopt-a-Drain
Storm Drain Labeling
Across the Puget Sound, municipalities are working with residents to implement storm drain labeling activities. The program is simple: call the City, pick up your materials, and get to work labeling your storm drains. The goal is to foster awareness of the connection between what we do at home, what goes down the drain, and how our actions impact our water systems.
If you're interested in more than just labeling your storm drain you can pledge to keep an eye on it by participating in the Adopt-a-Drain program. When you Adopt-a-Drain, you agree to check a storm drain grate or grates near your home (particularly in the fall) and to remove any leaves or debris.
Vehicle Care Done Right
Washing your car in the driveway may be the most harmful household chore you perform because it releases chemicals that have accumulated from driving. These chemicals include:
- heavy metals
In addition, the soaps used contain phosphates and other chemicals that can harm fish and other organisms. Next time you need to wash your car consider the following alternatives:
1) Visit a commercial car wash. It is an environmentally-friendly alternative because the water at a car wash is typically used more than once and is discharged into the sanitary sewer system for treatment.
2) If you cannot visit a commercial car wash, wash your car on your lawn or any vegetated surface because chemicals and soap will infiltrate into the soil rather than flowing directly into streams.
Vehicle Leaks & Maintenance 101
Leaking vehicles are a serious problem in urban areas. Fluids that leak from vehicles include oil and anti-freeze (heavy metals) which enter our streams and Lake Washington without treatment.
To reduce your environmental impact you can fix leaking vehicles, drive less, and regularly maintain your vehicles. Don't forget to recycle your used motor oil and other fluids.
For more maintenance information and eco-care vehicle tips, visit:
- Don't Drip & Drive, Fix That Leak!
- Don't Leave a Sheen-Maintain Your Car
- WA State Vehicle Emission Inspection Program
Natural Yard Care
Improper lawn/plant fertilization application can hurt streams, lakes, and wetlands in Lake Forest Park. Please use the following protocol to help you fertilize your gardens & lawns properly:
- Apply fertilizer in small applications no more than three to four times per year (April 15, June 15, September 1 and once during the winter months) for a vigorous lawn.
- To reduce the need for fertilizers:
- Leave lawn clippings on the lawn after mowing (mulch mowing)
- Use organic fertilizers because they have a slower release and are a more natural form
- Lightly water within 24 hours after applying fertilizer to ensure absorption and avoid lawn burning
- Use phosphorus free fertilizer
- Never fertilize when a heavy or moderate rain is expected because much of the fertilizer will wash away, into our lakes and streams.
- Never apply a fertilizer / herbicide (weed killer) combination because it puts herbicides where they are not needed; spot treatment of particular weeds with a treatment specific to that weed is recommended. Visit Natural Yard Carefor additional information.
Native Planting & Composting
Did you know that when you plant species native to the Northwest you are supporting your local ecosystem? An ecosystem is comprised of all facets of life that work together to sustain life in a region. By keeping the natural environment in mind when landscaping, you are helping wildlife, plants, trees, water bodies and insects living in Lake Forest Park sustain life and thrive.
In addition to native planting, using compost is another way to support your local ecosystem. For more information about composting and soils, visit Compost & Healthy Soils.
Apple Maggot Control in Backyards
Since first detected in 1979 in Portland, Oregon, the apple maggot has spread and infested apples in many parts of the Pacific Northwest. Homeowners may want to rethink growing apples and other fruit trees. Many spray products labeled for homeowner use on fruit trees have been canceled. While apple maggot can render the fruit on your apple tree inedible, pockets of unsprayed “backyard” trees pose a serious threat to the commercial apple industry in the Northwest.
If you have apple trees or are interested in growing apple trees be sure to review the resources that are available.
Restoring Our Waters
Maintaining Your Septic System
Failing septic systems release untreated waste into our groundwater and on the ground. The untreated waste contains viruses and pathogens that are harmful to our health and water quality. Indicators for a failing septic system include:
- Bad odors
- Wet spots
- Lush green grass over the system
- Plumbing back-ups and gurgling noises from the plumbing or tank
If your septic system fails, you must connect to the public sanitary sewer system if it is available. Most properties in Lake Forest Park have sewer availability. If you are unsure, please visit the City's Sewer page for more information.