The year 2020 has certainly been different than any other year in my lifetime. Due to COVID-19, this summer has been different. With the pandemic, families were unable to enjoy family reunions, vacations, summer camps, sports camps, county fairs, going to the movies, and so much more. With our kids back in school, we know this means that summer is over.

Many families are burned out on all the news focused on COVID-19. Imagine for a moment living through this pandemic with concerns about water quality or no running water when you turned on the tap at the kitchen sink. Water quality is important to everyone.

The Clean Water Act 1972 established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface water. There are nearly 90,000 miles of streams and more than 600,000 acres of surface water in Arkansas.

The Safe Drinking Water Act 1974 serves as the main federal law that ensures the quality of drinking water. The SDWA sets up multiple barriers against pollution. These barriers include: source water protection, treatment distribution system integrity, and public information.

As farmers focus on safety during harvest season and our kids return to school with COVID-19 safety guidelines, we should all remember to do our part to protect the quality of our water. Remember you can also refer to COVID-19 resources at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Here are some recommendations to protect water quality: One common stormwater pollutant is wash water from washing your vehicle. There are a mix of pollutants in wash water including dirt, oils, grease, gasoline, and heavy metals from the engine, and particulates from vehicle exhaust and brake linings. When these pollutants are washed down the storm drain, they are directly discharged into the streams, creeks, lakes, and bayous and are not being treated at a wastewater treatment facility.

I recommend following best management practices for washing your vehicle at home. These practices include using soaps, cleaners, and detergents that are labeled phosphate free or biodegradable. Also, wash your vehicle on your lawn where the soil can filter the water and your lawn benefits from the water. You can also take your vehicle to a car wash that drains into a sanitary sewer instead of on the driveway or in a parking lot.

For more information about stormwater pollution prevention, visit Follow the Jefferson County stormwater program on Facebook or Instagram.

The Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture which offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.

Kevin Harris is an Extension agent with the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service. Details: or or 870-534-1033.