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By: Kendra Richards
WatersheDuluth Correspondent

We all know that water pollution is a big problem—we hear about it everywhere. However, few people know how much they contribute to the problem. Just because you don't throw your garbage into the lakes and streams doesn't mean you don't harm them other ways.

“Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from land-based sources, such as runoff pollution,? according to http://www.yoto98.noaa.gov/facts/pollut.htm, a Web site about runoff pollution. “Runoff pollution includes many small sources, like septic tanks, cars, trucks and boats, plus larger sources, such as farms, ranches and forest areas.

The site says that some water pollution even starts as air pollution, which settles into waterways and oceans. Dirt can also be a pollutant—top soil or silt from fields or construction sites can run off into waterways, harming fish and wildlife habitats.

A little bit from everyone adds up, and we are all guilty. With this in mind, I'm sure you are wondering: How does this directly affect you?

“Non-point source pollution, commonly called runoff pollution, can make river and ocean water unsafe for humans and wildlife,? said the runoff Web site. “Drinking water supplies can be contaminated by polluted runoff, as can coastal waters containing valuable fish stocks. Humans who come in contact with these polluted waters and affected fish can also experience harmful symptoms.?

More than one-third of the shellfish-growing waters of the United States are adversely affected by coastal pollution.

Of course, there are people out there trying to correct this problem, but it is costly.
“Each year millions of dollars are spent to restore and protect areas damaged or endangered by non-point source pollutants,? said the Web site.

However, this money spending is not necessary; there are many ways that we can all prevent this contamination from happening in the first place, saving millions of dollars.

The Web site listed the following, rather simple, solutions to runoff pollution:
-Get educated and share your knowledge!
-Don't pour oil, engine fluids, cleaners, or household chemicals down storm drains or sinks.
-Find approved motor oil and household chemical recycling or disposal facilities near your home, and make
sure your family and friends use them.
-Use lawn, garden and farm chemicals sparingly and wisely. Before spreading chemicals or fertilizer, check
the weather forecast for rain so they don't wash away.
-Repair automobile or boat engine leaks immediately.