Citizen Volunteer

The Izaak Walton League believes every American has the right to know whether the streams in their communities are safe for kids to play in, dogs to splash through, or people to fish in. That’s why we created the Clean Water Challenge – to improve nationwide awareness of the role citizens plays in keeping streams healthy.

There are simple steps you can take today that can make a difference for clean water.

In your home: The water we wash down the drain ends up in local streams and rivers after being treated at a sewage plant – a process that cannot remove every contaminant. So keeping it clean at home and using less water means cleaner streams for everyone.

Citizen Volunteer
  • Dispose of unwanted medications at your local pharmacy rather than flushing them down the toilet, which can pollute streams and drinking water.
  • Use garbage disposals less frequently. They consume a lot of water, and all that organic material running down your pipes increases the nutrient load in local waterways, which is the main cause of harmful algal blooms.
  • Every gallon of water you don’t use is a gallon that will not have to be treated at your local sewage treatment plant. You can save a few gallons when you:
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Do not run water continuously while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing dishes.
  • Only run dishwashers and clothes washers when there is a full load.
  • Take shorter showers (under 10 minutes to use less water than a bath).

Outside your home: What happens outdoors is even more important to stream health. Here are a few more steps you can take to improve water quality.

  • Take more Stream Selfies! Every stream pic you snap helps us create a list of sites that can be adopted by volunteer stream monitors – and shows the importance of steams across America.
  • Clean up pet waste in the yard and on walks. When it rains, pet waste gets washed into local waterways, where it can contaminate water and can make you sick!
  • Take used motor oil to a recycling center. Oil poured down a storm drain goes straight into local streams, and oil thrown away in the trash may leach into ground water.
  • Minimize lawn fertilizer use – or eliminate it altogether! Excess fertilizer from neighborhood yards is carried by rain water straight into local streams and is one of the culprits causing harmful algal blooms in our lakes
  • Plant “native” trees, shrubs, and flowers in your yard – plants adapted to local conditions, so they can thrive without being watered or fertilized. (Plus birds and butterflies will love them!)
  • If you need to water plants, catch rainwater from your rooftop in a rain barrel for that purpose. This not only saves treated water for indoor uses, it prevents runoff from washing pollutants into storm drains and straight into local streams.

Ready to get your feet wet with stream monitoring? We can help you get started! Your time commitment is small (less than 12 hours over the course of the year) but your impact is huge!

For more information on clean water issues and ways you can get involved, visit our Clean Water web page. Questions? E-mail the League’s Save Our Streams coordinator.