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Pollution Solutions


Recycle or properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, and used motor oil and other auto fluids. Don't pour them onto the ground or into storm drains. If you accidentally spill motor oil on the ground cover it with kitty litter to absorb the oil, then sweep it up and dispose of the kitty litter in the dumpster.  The City of Lubbock has four Citizen Convenience Stations that accept used oil and filters and used antifreeze. You can also schedule an appointment to drop off Household Hazardous Waste. See the Solid Waste Management website or call 775-2482 for more information.
Container for used oil recycling at citizen convenience station


In West Texas, we tend to have short spurts of heavy rain. When an inch of rain falls out of the sky in the course of an hour, the ground is unable to soak up all of the moisture, and so it runs off of our lawns and into the streets. When stormwater runs off of our lawns, any excess fertilizers and pesticides are carried away with it and pollute the playa lakes and Yellow House Canyon Draw. Additionally, when we use blowers to coax leaves and yard waste off of our property into the street, we are, in effect, depositing that waste into the playa lakes and streams. Yard clippings and leaves wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to water bodies, resulting in algae blooms and fish kills. Yard wastes also take up space in the stormwater detention basins, thus reducing the amount of runoff they hold and increasing both the likelihood of flood events and the maintenance cost to taxpayers.

  • Don't over water your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. This helps minimize needless runoff and saves our most precious resource: water.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Don't leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams. A common misconception is that mulching your lawn with grass clippings causes thatch. Actually, the glass clippings break down and release valuable nutrients to help your grass stay healthy and green. Mulching also reduces your dependence on fertilizers, thus saving you time and money.
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects. You can use an inexpensive tarp and rocks to cover the pile, or allow a fast growing groundcover, like vinca, to stabilize the pile when not in use.


Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby canyon and playa lakes. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns. 

  • Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3 to 5 years).
  • Don't dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.


Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the storm sewer system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a playa lake. 

  • "Go Green" and support your local business owner: Ditch the Driveway and Use a Carwash!
    Home carwashes may be an inexpensive for you way to make your vehicle shine, but the cost to the environment is priceless. First, you use more water. The average driveway car wash uses 80-1401 gallons of drinking water, contrasted with the average commercial car wash use of less than 451 gallons of recycled water per car. Next, you are polluting the playa and canyon lakes. When you wash your car in the driveway, the detergents and chemicals are rinsed off your car and travel down the street to a storm sewer inlet or to one of the playa lakes. This polluted water is not treated before reaching the fish and wildlife at the playa lakes and canyon lakes. At the commercial car wash, however, the polluted water is filtered through a drain and travels to the waste water treatment facility. Also, mobile car wash businesses permitted through the City of Lubbock operate with little environmental impact. This summer, skip the home car wash and go green! It's a small price to pay for healthy fish and birds at our parks! (Source: International Association of Car Washes and EPA)
  • Batteries, Leaks and Oil
    Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at recycling locations. For Citizen Convenience Center hours and information call (806) 775-2482 or visit the City of Lubbock Solid Waste website.

PET WASTE - SCOOP THE POOP  Logo for Scoop the Poop - dog with speech bubble     

Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in canyon and playa lakes. 

When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local playa lakes. Additionally, no one wants to walk along a trail littered with pet waste and flies! As a responsible pet owner and out of respect and concern for your fellow citizens, clean up after your pet. You can invest in a pooper scooper or bring two grocery bags with you on your walks: use one as a glove and deposit the waste into the other. 

Dangers of Pet Waste if Not Handled Properly:
  • Spreads diseases between pets.
  • Infects children and adults with disease-causing bacteria and parasites.
When pet waste is disposed of improperly, not only does water quality and pet health, but our health may be at risk too. Pets and children who play in yards or in parks where pets defecate are most at risk for infection from disease-causing bacteria and parasites found in pet waste. Diseases that can be passed from pet waste to humans include:
  • Campylobacteriosis – a bacterial infection carried by dogs and cats that frequently causes diarrhea in humans.
  • Salmonellosis – the most common bacterial infection transmitted to humans by other animals. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Toxocariasis – roundworms usually transmitted from dogs to humans, often without noticeable symptoms, but may cause vision loss, a rash, fever, or cough.
  • Toxoplasmosis – a parasite carried by cats that can cause birth defects if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy. This can also be a problem for people with depressed immune systems.
Pet waste also makes our canyon and playa lakes unsafe – Pet waste left on the ground may wash into storm drains and end up in the canyon and playa lakes. Our water quality suffers. After being washed into the lakes, pet waste uses up oxygen as it decays, causing harm to aquatic organisms and degrading aquatic health. 

You Can Make a Difference!
When walking with your pet, take a plastic bag or paper cup along and throw the waste in the trash. Also, many of the public parks have pet waste stations, which provide water pickup materials! 

Dispose of Pet Waste Properly:
  • Flush it down the toilet.
  • Put it in the household trash after securely wrapping it. 
Did you know?
  • The Animal Control Ordinance governs pet waste clean up. It is considered to be a Public Nuisance, which is in violation of City Ordinance, to allow your pet to damage, soil, defile or defecate on private property other than the owner's or on public property, unless such waste is immediately removed and properly disposed of by the owner of the animal.
  • Each dog produces an estimated 200 pounds of waste per year.
  • There are more than 50,000 dogs in the City of Lubbock.
  • The combined amount of pet waste for 50,000 dogs is 10 million pounds of waste per year!
  • You and your pets can catch diseases from coming into contact with infected feces of other pets.


Permeable Pavement — Traditional concrete and asphalt don't allow water to soak into the ground. Instead these surfaces rely on storm drains to divert unwanted water. Permeable pavement systems allow rain and snowmelt to soak through, decreasing stormwater runoff. You can use permeable surfaces for walkways and other outdoor surfaces. Here are just a few ideas for West Texas landscapes:
  • Create a pathway from your driveway to your front door using reclaimed bricks. Plant Elfin Thyme or Corsican Mint in the cracks and water until established. In a few weeks you have a beautiful, unique pathway with a fragrant lining and reduced stormwater runoff!

Xeriscaping at the National Ranching Heritage Museum Xeriscaping — Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that  reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from  irrigation. If you are concerned about the scarcity and/or high  price of water, before you concrete your front yard, consider  planting a xeric garden. West Texas’ xeric plants can make  for an earth-friendly front yard with heaps of curb appeal over  drab concrete! Plant Rosemary Officinalis and Spanish  Lavender, along with Red Tipped Yucca and Bluebeard  Caryopteris for a beautiful and perennial water wise yard. For additional information about planning and planting xeric landscaping, visit Xeriscaping: How to Make a Drought-Tolerant Landscape.

Rain Barrels
 — You can collect rainwater from rooftops in mosquito-proof containers. The water can be used later on lawn or garden areas. Even if you do not have a gutter system on your home, rain barrels can be strategically placed to function effectively.
  • If you are interested in attending a Rain Barrel Make and Take Workshop, please contact Lubbock Memorial Arboretum located at 4111 University Avenue, phone 806-797-4520, or website at
Rain Gardens and Grassy Swales — Specially designed areas planted with native plants can provide natural places for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. Rain from rooftop areas or paved areas can be diverted into these areas rather than into storm drains.
  • Turn your right of way into a rain garden! Always call 811 before beginning any digging project. Dig the right of way area out to just below the curb. Plant draught tolerant species like Lavender Cotton (Santolina), Desert Willow, Rosemary Officinalis, Caryopteris and Texas Sage. Then fill in with mulch to retain the moisture. You will have to water the plants until they are established. But then, they will grow and prosper with what ever the Lubbock sky provides!
Vegetated Filter Strips — Filter strips are areas of native grass or plants created along roadways or streams. They trap the pollutants stormwater picks up as it flows across driveways and streets.


Dirt, oil, and debris that collect in parking lots and paved areas can be washed into the storm sewer system and eventually enter local canyon and playa lakes.
  • Sweep up litter and debris from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, especially around storm drains. Instead of using precious water to wash off parking lots, use an old fashioned broom. Save money on your water bill, reduce runoff, and conserve water all with one fell sweep!
  • Cover grease storage and dumpsters and keep them clean to avoid leaks.
  • Report any chemical spill to the local hazardous waste cleanup team. They'll know the best way to keep spills from harming the environment.

CONSTRUCTIONProperly installed silt fence at construction site

Erosion controls that aren't maintained can cause excessive amounts of sediment and debris to be carried into the stormwater system. Construction vehicles can leak fuel, oil, and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater and deposited into local canyon and playa lakes. 
  • Divert stormwater away from disturbed or exposed areas of the construction site.
  • Install silt fences, vehicle mud removal areas, vegetative cover, and other sediment and erosion controls and properly maintain them, especially after rainstorms.
  • Prevent soil erosion by minimizing disturbed areas during construction projects, and seed and mulch bare areas as soon as possible.
  • During windy days, use of a water truck or mulching is imperative to reduce wind erosion and airborne sediment.


Lack of vegetation on the banks of playa lakes can lead to erosion. Overgrazed pastures can also contribute excessive amounts of sediment to local water bodies. Excess fertilizers and pesticides can poison aquatic animals and lead to destructive algae blooms. Livestock in streams can contaminate waterways with bacteria, making them unsafe for human contact. 
  • Keep livestock away from the banks of playa lakes and provide a water source away from water bodies.
  • Store and apply manure away from water bodies and in accordance with a nutrient management plan.
  • Vegetate riparian areas along waterways.
  • Rotate animal grazing to prevent soil erosion in fields.
  • Apply fertilizers and pesticides according to label instructions to save money and minimize pollution.


Uncovered fueling stations allow spills to be washed into storm drains. Cars waiting to be repaired can leak fuel, oil, and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater. 
  • Clean up spills immediately and properly dispose of cleanup materials.
  • Sweep up litter and debris from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, especially around storm drains. Instead of using precious water to wash off parking lots, use an old fashioned broom. Save money on your water bill, reduce runoff, and conserve water all with one fell sweep!
  • Provide cover over fueling stations and design or retrofit facilities for spill containment.
  • Properly maintain fleet vehicles to prevent oil, gas, and other discharges from being washed into local water bodies.
  • Install and maintain oil/water separators.
Man using loose absorbent to clean up a fuel spill on concrete