Keep water clean. Wash your car on grass or gravel.

Time: 
Morning

Not only does every coastal state suffer from polluted and contaminated beaches, but those problems resulted in more than 20,000 closing and swimming advisory days in 2008 alone. Such is the sorry state of affairs noted in the NRDC report Testing the Waters.

The hopeful news is that one of the major causes of beach pollution is stormwater runoff, which we can help prevent through some simple changes around the home. Some western states and cities already require that car owners wash their cars on grass, gravel or other permeable surfaces to prevent the runoff of oil, grease and metals into our storm drains. By switching to one of several waterless car-washing products on the market, you’ll do even more to prevent water waste and keep pollutants out of the environment. If you find they don’t clean your car as thoroughly as you’d like, visit a commercial car wash. The Clean Water Act requires that commercial car washes send their wastewater to a treatment plant.

For other ways to reduce stormwater runoff, back-click to Got a Minute? A Morning? A Month?

Also, check out this NRDC slide show with examples of communities across America cleaning up their water—and saving money—with low-impact development.

For more, see what these Smarter Cities are doing to protect water quality: Burnsville, Minnesota; Norwalk, ConnecticutKansas, City, MissouriAnn Arbor, MichiganSanta Monica, California; and Denver, Colorado.

(Photo credit: iboy_daniel/Flickr)