Blanco County News
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Garbage and Waterways
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 • Posted May 12, 2009 10:00 PM

We have been researching the evolution of garbage and it's impact on our waterways. While this column has touched on international problems with garbage, my goal is to illustrate local causes that contribute to global problems.

There are many forms of waste in our oceans and rivers. But what about the "garbage" we can't see in our own drinking water? Namely, toxins. Often they come from common household products.

We must understand the relationship between what we do with household hazardous wastes and groundwater quality if we are to protect our precious water supplies.

Detergents, degreasers, stain removers, pesticides, paints and batteries to name a few have made our homes miniature chemical factories.

One of the biggest culprits in ocean pollution is phosphates, common in laundry detergents. How did our dirty laundry go global? According to, U.S. citizens use about 8.3 billion pounds of dry detergent and a billion gallons of liquid detergent each year!

High phosphate levels can kill life in rivers, streams and oceans by causing algae blooms. We are recognizing that our personal product choices have an impact at every stage of their lifetime, from seeping into our local groundwater to the larger combined impact on our oceans.

For instance, when you pour a chemical down the drain or dump it in your yard, it must go somewhere. Many national manufacturers have responded to the call for phosphate free products.

Locally, we can do our part. Whenever possible, use non-toxic products that will curtail the destruction of our environment.

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