“We call that non-point-source pollution,” Scaroni said. “That’s what we really have to manage, and that’s what we all have to play a role in preventing.”
When it came to behaviors, the survey attempted to ascertain if knowledge about stormwater pollution translated into taking actions that reflect that knowledge. The 60 percent of those surveyed who believed stormwater was treated prior to being released into waterways closely correlated with the 40 percent who said they had dumped something down a storm drain.
“Those sort of pair in that if you think it’s treated, you don’t feel so bad about dumping your paint wash or soapy water from washing your car down the storm drain, forgetting or not realizing that it’s heading right out to your local stream or creek,” Scaroni said.
Only 12 percent of those surveyed said they dump FOG down the drain, but even such a low percentage represents a big problem — clogging drains, causing sewage backups and many other issues with water quality.
While 67 percent said they always picked up after their pets, showing state residents are taking that message to heart, bacteria remains the most common water quality pollutant in South Carolina, making it the biggest impairment in the state’s waterways.
“Picking up pet waste might sound like a small thing, but it’s extremely important,” Scaroni said. “It’s not just something you want to avoid stepping in, it’s a contributor to pollution in our local waterways. And bacterial pollution can lead to things like beach closures to swimming and closures of shellfish beds — because it is a health hazard.”