What if I told you that what goes into your garden also ends up in the ocean?

During a big rainstorm, pollutants are washed away into a storm drain that leads to Casco Bay. And, that is really harmful for underwater creatures like fish. But not only underwater creatures are in danger, we are too! Did you know that there are more rainstorms here in Maine than in the past, and that there are more impervious surfaces, like parking lots?

One runoff pollutant is nutrients. Some people put a lot of fertilizer on their lawns before a big rainstorm, which is really bad practice.

In the ocean, nitrogen nurtures plant growth, from single-celled phytoplankton to large seaweeds. But too much nitrogen triggers excessive algae growth that can turn the bay green. When plants die, decomposing bacteria remove the oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide, making the water more acidic.

Did you know that you can do something about it?

When you add fertilizer, make sure there’s no chance of rain coming up. Plants need time to take up fertilizers, and if it rains, then the fertilizer intended for the plants gets washed away into the streets and into runoff! Read the fertilizer instructions and follow them carefully. Use only what you need because plants don’t need as much as you think.

Kimberly G. Santos

Grade 6, King Middle School

Portland


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