The Sacramento area has been surrounded this summer by wildfires and the effects have been smoky skies and falling ash. Breathing the bad air has been tough enough, but what’s been falling from the sky is adding another environmental problem for our waterways.
Ash contains wood and vegetation, but also chemicals from homes and other buildings caught up in the flames then sent adrift to fall over the Sacramento region. We can help keep more from ending up in the water by being careful about how we remove the ash on our property.
If ash covers your home, walkway or vehicle, avoid breaking out the hose and washing it down gutter. That untreated ash can pollute the storm drains and eventually the creeks and rivers. Sweeping up the ash from around your home and depositing it in your trashcan is the best way to remove the pollutants.
When it comes to cleaning your vehicles, you should get rid of the ash on your vehicle as soon as possible because it can harm the paint. Taking your vehicle to a carwash will keep wastewater out of the storm drain system by diverting the wastewater to the sanitary sewer system or to a landscaped area where it will not pollute our creeks, rivers and waterways.
The cleaning up after the fires has both the U.S. and California Environmental Protection Agencies developing plans on clearing the ash without causing damage to creeks and rivers.
You can find more information from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on the effects of ash in the waterways.