We forgot about waste
I recently read the painting article in my wife’s The Shed magazine (Issue No. 83). A pretty useful article but one aspect that did bother me was what wasn’t covered in terms of proper washing practice for buildings, roofs, or brushes, etc. Not once was there any mention of actions intended to avoid contaminating the storm-water system. Roofs, driveway sumps, street sumps, and the kerb and channel in the street all form part of the local storm-water network which drains untreated water to our streams and rivers. The article referred to cleaning products to use but not that use of them potentially contaminates our waterways if it gets into drains. There was no mention of diverting downpipes if cleaning roofs, or trying to avoid wash water going into drains. There are no environmentally friendly detergents, whether marketers call them biodegradable or not, they are all contaminants in their own right, let alone the materials they are used to help remove.
Among other tasks I do pollution response and we still get many incidents involving paint being washed into storm-water drains, along with countless poor washing practice incidents and washing of concreting equipment (highly alkaline).
The single biggest cause is people not knowing better, not understanding where drains go, or failing to read the labels on the paint tins — we had Dulux and Resene change their instructions over a decade back (they used to say wash up in water, now they are more specific).
If you are doing further articles that involve cleaning or washing of equipment (e.g., brushes) then it would be helpful if your magazine could assist in the education of the public and reinforce good practice.
A good guide I use for people is if you would not swim in it then why would you think it was OK for a storm-water drain and the fish downstream? I also note that people use detergents/cleaning agents to help them clean something they don’t value from something they do value and send it somewhere they generally haven’t thought about.
Thanks guys, Gordon George (via Shed website)
Thanks Gordon and we have to take those comments on the chin. Our bad. We will schedule an article in a future issue re. waste products of all types and how we — responsible sheddies that we are — should deal with disposal issues. Appreciate you bringing this to our attention. — Editor