Bays and Streams Education

In Your Home

Dispose of Household Products Carefully

Many household products like paints, preservatives, brush cleaners, and solvents can harm the Bay. Never pour them down the drain since sewers and septic tanks do not treat these materials. Buy the product with the least amount of toxic materials. Used turpentine and brush cleaners can be filtered and reused. Stuff paint cans and other chemical containers with newspapers before discarding. Call the Maryland Department of the Environment (410) 631-3305 for more information.

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Save Water

Saving water helps the Bay by reducing the volume of water going through sewage treatment plants. It also saves you money. In one day, a dripping faucet wastes 20 gallons of water and a leaking toilet 200 gallons. If your water meter dial moves when no water is running you have a leak. Use water sparingly while brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or shaving. Install a water conservation shower head and take short showers instead of baths. Call MD Dept. of the Environment at (410) 631-3567 for more details.

Contain Chemical Spills

If pesticides, oil, gasoline, or similar products leak or spill onto the garage floor, driveway, or other hard surface, do not wash down the area. This will cause further contamination and may carry the material to storm drains or other water resources. Surround the contaminated area with dirt and sprinkle sawdust, kitty litter, or other absorbent material over the spill. Put the material into a strong plastic bag and put the bag in the trash. Call MD Dept. of the Environment, Waste Management (410) 631-3305 for more chemical solutions.

Maintain Your Septic System

If a septic system fails, its untreated waste can seep into rivers, ground-water, and into the Bay. Your system is not working properly if drains and toilets drain slowly or if effluent seeps upward from the ground. Never use your toilet as a garbage can. Use your garbage disposal sparingly to reduce grease and solids in your septic system, and keep heavy equipment off the drainage area. Call MD Dept. of the Environment, Industrial Permits (410) 631-3652 for maintenance suggestions.

Conserve Energy

A year's worth of electricity in the average home sends 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air, adding to global warming and day-to-day smog. As the cost of energy continues to go up, many homeowners are looking for ways to control the expenses of operating their homes. Turn electric appliances off during peak times, between noon and 5 p.m. Lower the temperature of your water heater to 130 degrees. This will conserve energy and save about $25 a year. For more energy conservation tips, call the MD Energy Administration (410) 974-2511.


Recycling is an easy, efficient, and cost effective way to help the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. The Maryland Recycling Act required each county and Baltimore City to develop a recycling program by 1994 which reduces 20 percent of their solid waste. Recycling is good for the environment because it reuses our natural resources. Recycling also helps to reduce water and air pollution. For a comprehensive directory on where to take recyclable materials in your county, call the MD Environmental Service at 1-800-473-2925.

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