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National Estuary Program (NEP)

What You Can Do to Help Protect our Coastal Watersheds and Estuaries

Here's what you can do to protect our coastal watersheds and estuaries, our priceless resources:

At Home:

  • Conserve water in your daily life.
    • Install water-saving toilets and showerheads.
    • Replace dripping faucets and leaky pipes.
  • Dispose of household and yard chemicals properly; follow disposal directions on their labels.
  • Don't be wasteful: reduce, re-use and recycle every day.
  • Pick up trash; participate in trash clean-up days.
  • Cut up the rings of plastic six-pack holders so that aquatic life and birds cannot become entangled in them.
  • Respect your sewer system: don't pour toxic wastes, chemicals or any medications down the toilet.

In Your Garage and Yard:

Rain Barrel
  • Maintain your cars and other heavy equipment to reduce oil leaks.
  • Minimize use of fertilizers and pesticides on your yard.
  • Water your lawn conservatively and keep grass clippings out of street gutters.
  • Have your septic system inspected to make sure it is operating properly.
  • Avoid pouring fats, grease or solids down the drain.
  • Build a rain garden in your yard or install rain barrels.

On the Water:

building artificial reef balls
Building Artificial Reef Balls
Photo Credit: Nancy Laurson
  • Don't dump your trash overboard; dispose of properly and recycle.
  • Maintain your boats to reduce oil leaks.
  • Keep your boat or motorized watercraft out of sensitive areas like seagrass beds.
  • Install and maintain marine sanitation devices on your boat.
  • Use designated pumpout stations.
  • When visiting coral reefs, do not touch living coral.

In Your Community:

PREP Clean-up group
  • Volunteer with your local environmental organizations.
  • Pick up trash; participate in trash clean-up days.
  • Help plant trees or seagrass, or remove invasive vegetation.
  • Don't litter: streets and storm drains empty into rivers and streams that drain into our estuaries.
  • Pick up your pet's waste.
  • Do not dump petroleum products, including oil, down storm drains; recycle used motor oil.
  • Remember gutters and storm drains deliver water and contaminants to streams, rivers and eventually the ocean.

When Shopping:

  • Use reusable bags rather than paper or plastic ones.
  • Choose non-toxic products for household use.
  • Choose products carefully: avoid excess packaging.