You Can Help

In Your Yard

Dispose of yard waste in compost piles and use a mulching mower. Never place leaves or other yard waste directly into drainageways because the nutrients in the material can  be transported to our surface waters, which decreases oxygen – reducing aquatic life. Your grass clippings and leaves can be dropped off, free of charge, at the Olmsted County Compost Site located on Silver Creek Road in Rochester, just east of the Olmsted County Recycling Center, or you can develop your own home composting site. The County's Compost Site only accepts grass clippings and leaves. For more information, please contact Olmsted County Public Works at 507 328-7070.

Minimize the use of pesticides around your property because many of the chemicals used in these products can be easily washed off your lawn or garden by rain. If you must use chemicals, use those that are the least toxic, follow the directions carefully, and use as small amounts as possible.

Clean up immediately after your pets and throw the waste into the trash. In addition to being unsightly and smelly, pet waste contains bacteria and other organisms that can cause human diseases, including campylobacter, giardia, toxoplasma, and salmonella. These organism can contaminate soil as well as drinking water, lakes, rivers, and streams. In Olmsted County the majority of the collected waste is sent to the Waste-to-Energy Facility where it is burned at high temperatures. Pet wastes should not be flushed down toilets since it has the ability to shorten the life of septic systems and increase the operating costs of municipal sewage treatments plants.

Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces onto lawns and other measures to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff.

Harvesting Rain From Your Roof (52KB)

How to Build a Rain Garden (5.1MB)

Rain barrel Installation Instructions (32KB)

In Your Driveway

Maintain and repair your vehicle so that it doesn't leak any fluids. Park your car over a piece of cardboard overnight to see what and how much fluid might be leaking. If spots are visible, repair the leak, or continue to soak up leaking fluids at night with a mat that can be eventually thrown away.

Practice dry cleanup methods when cleaning your paved driveway. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean debris off your driveway. This will help prevent any material or sediment from being washed into a storm water conveyance system. If a vehicle spill occurs on your driveway, use a paper or corncob based absorbent to soak up the excess fluid. Once it is dry, use a broom to sweep it up then dispose of the material in the trash.

When changing fluids in your vehicle, dispose of all used fluids properly. Do not dump used fluids in a ditch or on your lawn. Automobile fluids tend to be hazardous to human health and the environment. Instead, recycle these fluids. Local retailers who sell motor oil are required to accept it or tell you where you can take it.  Antifreeze can be brought to the Olmsted County Hazardous Waste Facility for recycling. Remember not to mix oil or any other solvents together.

Do not wash cars, RVs, or boats in your driveway because this detergent laden water can run directly into a nearby waterway. Remember, soap destroys dirt and organisms, it will do the same in rivers, lakes, and streams. Instead, go to a full or self serve car wash since the greywater is sent to a wastewater treatment facility.

Swimming Pool and Spa

Drain your swimming pool only when a test kit does not detect chlorine levels because chlorinated water is very harmful to stream life.

Whenever possible, drain your pool or spa into a sanitary sewer system.

Properly store pool and spa chemicals to prevent leaks and spills, preferably in a covered area to avoid exposure to storm water.

Septic System Use and Maintenance

Have your septic system inspected by a professional at least every 3 years, and have the septic tank pumped as necessary (usually every 3 to 5 years).

Care for the septic system drain field by not driving or parking vehicles on it.

Flush responsibly. Flushing household chemicals like paint, pesticides, oil, and antifreeze can destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system. Other items, such as diapers, paper towels, and cat litter, can clog the septic system and potentially damage components.

In Our Community

Educate your neighbors about the importance of storm water quality.

Report any illegal dumping into the County's road ditches, such as solid waste or wastewater from failing septic systems. Call the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department at 507 328-7100.

Report construction site storm water problems,
such as soil running off the site into a County road ditch or waterway by calling the Olmsted Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) at 507 328-7070.


Adopt-a-Highway in your neighborhood. Volunteer by yourself or with neighbors, and take turns cleaning away debris along the roadways after storm events.