A winter storm warning has been issued for our coastal area. There is an increased threat from coastal flooding, flying debris, power outages and downed trees in numerous locations, especially along the Jersey shoreline. While storms presents public safety and property impacts, COA would also like to recommend actions to prevent pollution impacts as well.
· Minimize the escape of trash and debris:
o Remove all objects left outdoors that may escape due to winds and water (garbage cans, bikes, patio furniture, etc.) and bring them indoors, where possible. If you cannot bring these items inside, secure them tightly so they don’t fly or float away. Waste management in particular, is critical during storm events. Keep trash cans and recycling lids secured with lids on. Better yet, keep them inside until the storm is over. If you see unmanaged dumpsters and waste receptacles in your town, call your Public Works department or the company that owns or manages the dumpster. improperly managed wastebins and dumpsters are sources of litter that will end up on our beaches and in our waters.
· Minimize the escape of solid waste and microbial pathogens:
o To minimize the entry of microbial contaminants and solid waste into our waterways, cover and secure all outdoor garbage cans including pet waste trash collection bins, recycling cans etc.
o Dispose the contents of outdoor litter boxes by flushing them down the toilet.
o Bring pets indoors and close down “outdoor” pet housing securely.
o Make sure that pet waste is properly disposed of prior to a storm - large rain events will flush these potent sources of bacteria directly into waterways
· Minimize entry of organic and inorganic contaminants:
o Move any chemicals such as pesticides, household cleaners, etc. oil, salt and de-icers, fertilizers off the ground of your garage or basement if you are in a flood prone area. Ensure that these items are properly contained and put them high up on shelves above the flood zone.
o If you must store these items outside, make sure they are properly secured and high above a flood or puddle zone outside homes, businesses, municipalities.
· Park your car and other mechanical equipment above flood waters
o Not only is flood water damaging to your car, but these waters can also flush fuel, grease, oils, and other contaminants from vehicles directly into waterways. If you live in a flood prone area, make sure your car, lawnmower, and other mechanical equipment is secured away from these flood zones.
· Consider reducing your use of Showers and Bathrooms during Storms
o Superstorm Sandy overwhelmed and damaged numerous wastewater treatment facilities in our region, resulting in 11 billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage flowing directly into rivers, bays, canals, and in some cases, city streets.
o During a storm event, try to minimize the amount of wastewater you are sending to your wastewater treatment plant or septic tank. Large amounts of precipitation can impact the ability of septic systems and wastewater treatment plants to function. The less wastewater you are sending down the drain, the less chance of a malfunction at the plant or tank.