Are you a river-friendly resident? Nonpoint source pollution is a major contributor to the contamination of streams and rivers. It is the result of pollution carried by storm water into our drinking water.

No matter where you live, you live in a watershed, which is the area of land that drains into a common body of water. This means that many of the day-to-day choices you make directly impact on the greater community, good or bad.

Being river-friendly is often a matter of being aware of how our actions affect the water quality of Lopatcong Creek.

Here are some tips on the small things you can do to make a big difference:

Reduce the need to fertilize your lawn by leaving grass clippings in place after mowing.

Use mulch in your garden to keep soil moist and save water.

Consider Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control insects, animal and plant pests around your household in ways that minimize risk to humans and the environment. For example, attract insect-feeding birds by providing water and the appropriate feed to reduce the need for harmful chemicals.

Create or expand plant beds to serve as buffers near water bodies, streets, driveways, and sidewalks to reduce runoff to keep fertilizers on your lawn.

Plant trees. Trees act as natural filters by removing nutrients and other pollution from storm water. Trees also improve air quality, reduce energy consumption by shading and cooling our homes and businesses, and provide valuable habitat.

Use the right plant in the right place. Select plants based on the conditions in your yard and the requirements of the plant (soil type, amount of sunlight, mature size of plant, etc.). Utilize plants and turf grasses that can rely mostly on normal rainfall conditions. Native plants are the best choice because they are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions and provide habitat for wildlife.

Always recycle or dispose of hazardous chemicals properly and never pour them down storm drains, which lead directly back to your faucet. Find out if/when your community sponsors hazardous waste collections.

Conserve water. Fix leaky faucets and hoses and sweep your sidewalk or driveway instead of hosing it off.

Get out and enjoy the natural splendor of your local streams and their surroundings. A little appreciation goes a long way.

Spread the word. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do their part to protect our local water. Walk more, hike more, with family, with friends.