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The City of Phoenix Water Services Department has a new helper—to help remind everyone, every day to do one thing to reduce stormwater pollution.

Hopper is a Sonoran-desert toad and was born on the Salt River.



More About Toads:

Toads are amphibians, which means their life cycle depends on land and water. Toads need clean water in order to survive. Because Arizona, specifically Phoenix, has limited surface water, it’s even more important to protect the quality of water that runs off during a rainstorm event.

What Is Stormwater Pollution?

Do you know that when rainwater falls to the earth, some of it soaks into the soil and some flows over the ground’s surface? This is called stormwater runoff. 

Rain that falls on your roof and driveway cannot soak into the soil, instead, it runs off into the lawn or across the pavement to the road. As it flows, if there is any pollutant, like chemicals, or oil, or bacteria from dog poo, the pollutant goes with the stormwater runoff. 

Where does it go? Well, that depends on the watershed.  

In some places around the world, the water keeps flowing, picking up more and more runoff, and pollutants, and takes them all the way to the ocean! Here in the desert, and urban Phoenix, the runoff goes to a wash, a basin, a park or a dry riverbed. This is because there is a storm sewer system that captures all that runoff and sends it to the lowest point in the valley (the Salt River and eventually the Gila River).

Household Water Use:

At home, when you shower or brush your teeth, or help mom and dad with the dishes or laundry, the clean water you use becomes wastewater. This wastewater goes through a series of pipes called the sanitary sewer system, which brings the wastewater to a treatment plant. Wastewater, with all the human waste, toothpaste, toilet paper, dish and laundry detergent, is cleaned up at the treatment plant and then, and only then, does it reenter the environment.      

So what’s the difference between sanitary wastewater and stormwater? Yeah, treatment! Sanitary wastewater is treated to remove the chemicals, bacteria, and soaps. Stormwater is not treated. And because of that, everyone needs to be extra careful about what is left around on the yard, in the driveway, and along the streets.

What Can We Do to Protect the Environment?

• Always put trash in a garbage can. Make sure it’s in a bag to keep it from blowing away. 

• Remind mom and dad to use chemicals according to directions and to dispose of the unused liquids at your community’s household hazardous waste event.

• Use a broom or rake to help gather dirt, grass and leaves.

• Pick up the dog poo. Bag it. Put it in a trash can.

Always remember that you can make a difference.

Take the Leap—Clean Water Starts with You!

For more information, visit Stormwater

Teachers! Middle School Activity Book.