Dog poop, lawn chemicals, and oily spills. With every rain, storm drains carry all this pollution directly to local streams, ponds, and Narragansett Bay without treatment. Stormwater pollution is a major problem for RI waters – closing beaches and shellfish beds, destroying wildlife habitat, and threatening drinking water supplies. The good news is that you can be part of the solution!

This is Part One in a series that is intended to provide simple tips for Rhode Island homeowners to become part of the solution to reduce storm water runoff and protect neighborhoods.

TIP: Eliminate or reduce your use of lawn chemicals.

  • If you must fertilize, September is the best month. And be sure to use slow-release fertilizer.
  • If you want to fertilize more than once, don’t fertilize in the spring until you have mowed the lawn three times.
  • More is not always better! Skip the “step programs” offered by many lawn care companies, and be sure to apply fertilizers and pesticides only as directed. Using less will save you money, too! If you do use a lawn care company, ask them about their environmental options and certifications.
  • Go natural: mow high and leave grass clippings on the lawn. It helps improve the lawn’s health and quality, and you’re less likely to need fertilizer.
  • Avoid using fertilizers or pesticides near wellheads or within 75 feet of waterways.
  • Check the weather forecast before applications, and don’t apply fertilizers or pesticides when there is rain predicted.
  • Avoid using combination fertilizer/pesticide products. Hand pick weeds when possible, and if you must treat weeds or insects with pesticides, spot treat them rather than dousing the entire lawn.
TIP: Don’t Dump Into Storm Drains

Everything that enters a storm drain goes directly to local waters- without treatment!.

  • Don’t dump, wash, or rake anything directly into a storm drain or into the path water takes to the storm drain.
  • Keep all lawn chemicals and yard debris out of storm drains. Even grass clippings and excess leaves don’t belong in our streams and rivers.
Nature based stormwater solutions, or green infrastructure, infiltrate and remove pollutants from stormwater runoff. These practices also provide communities with wildlife habitat, cooling and flood mitigation. We thank the University of Rhode Island Storm Water Solutions staff for their help in preparing these tips! For more information you can visit their website:
Join us! The Olneyville neighborhood green infrastructure tour begins at 9 AM on Friday May 18 in Riverside Park in Providence, rain or shine. To register please email or
call Greg at 401-621-8048 at the Environment Council of Rhode Island.

To showcase the variety of green infrastructure practices, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council has created a walking tour, complete with explanatory signs, that showcases a green roof, rain gardens and bioswales at Riverside Park and the adjacent neighborhood. This tour will be led by WRWC Executive Director Alicia Lehrer, supported by a several other members of the Green Infrastructure Coalition.
Nature At Work is a newsletter designed and distributed by the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition to bring more green space news to our cities and encourage the use of nature to clean, protect, and cool our neighborhoods. Because of climate change, we are seeing increased heat impacts in our city, especially where there are fewer trees, as well as issues with flooding and polluted runoff in our neighborhoods.

The Green Infrastructure Coalition is a collaborative of more than 40 non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies focused on using nature to reduce stormwater pollution. We develop projects to demonstrate the powerful role nature can play to create healthier urban environments. We promote policies to create sustainable funding for stormwater management and green infrastructure solutions. And we connect a wide range of partners to share lessons learned in the Providence Metro area and Aquidneck Island.

RI-GIC Website