The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) and its water partners celebrate the month of April each year because it is home to Earth Day on April 22, 2021 and Arbor Day on April 26, 2021. While these environmental holidays are only two days of the month, SAWPA chooses to celebrate them every day by spreading awareness about the importance of protecting the natural environment and the invaluable resources it provides. Why? Because we have no planet B!
Protecting our planet encompasses a variety of actions including caring for our ecosystems, plants and trees; reducing, reusing and recycling waste; minimizing effects on air quality and, of course, preserving our water sources. As a regional leader in water, SAWPA demonstrates the significance of preserving our watershed through strategic planning, regional partnerships, conservation programs and educational opportunities for our communities.
What exactly is a watershed?
A watershed is an area that collects rainwater and snowmelt and naturally drains it. Like a funnel, all of the water that falls into the watershed eventually flows out into a larger body of water such as a lake, river or ocean. In our case, it is the Santa Ana River and its tributaries that make up the Santa Ana River Watershed.
SAWPA’s vision is a sustainable Santa Ana River Watershed that provides clean and reliable water resources for a vibrant economy and high quality of life for all while maintaining healthy ecosystems and open space opportunities.
To maintain this vision, all of us must do our part to protect the Santa Ana River Watershed. Protecting the watershed begins with daily habits at home. Let’s dive into five game-changer habits that can make a big splash in the protection of the Santa Ana River Watershed and the environment.
Five simple ways to protect the Santa Ana River Watershed:
Observe how you can conserve: Conserving water is a major way to help sustain our local watersheds. Three easy ways to start conserving water include: limiting your shower time and opting not to take full baths frequently; turning the faucet off while you brush your teeth and washing fruits and veggies in a bowl filled with water instead of continuously allowing water to flow over them and down the drain.
After your pet does its duty, do yours: Picking up your pet’s waste is not just the neighborly thing to do but also protects the environment. Pet waste is a pollutant and human health hazard. When it is left on the ground, it eventually breaks down and washes into the water supply, which ultimately pollutes rivers, creeks, the ocean and you guessed it – our watershed.
Create memories outdoors, not waste: Whether lounging at the beach or enjoying a picnic by the river, left-behind litter is a problem. Trash and debris left outdoors get washed away or blown into our watershed and endanger the plants and species that call it home. While recreating outdoors, always make sure to properly dispose of all of your trash.
Back away from the heavy fertilizers: We all love vibrant gardens and landscapes – they add charm and beauty to our neighborhoods. However, the harsh chemical-laced fertilizers that we use to grow lush plants get washed into our water system over time. Stay away from fertilizers with heavy chemical contents and choose DIY homemade solutions from products you already have. Composted eggshells, coffee grounds and banana peels make for a thriving garden and keep these items out of our landfills. It’s a win, win!
Keep HHW out of the H2O: Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) includes common household products such as household cleaners, automotive fluids, paints and more. HHW products are often labeled with words including warning, danger, caution, poison, flammable or corrosive. These items cannot be poured down our drains or placed in the trash for disposal because they are environmental hazards. Instead, make quarterly or biannual trips to your local solid waste facility where these items can be turned in and disposed of safely.