Welcome to H2OHero.org!

Welcome to H2OHero.org!

Welcome to my home in the Watershed. Here I'll show you how to be an H2O Hero just like me! Just do some exploring and I'll share 11 helpful tips with you. Then use the links or tabs below for even more information.

Clean up after your pets

Did you know that 15 to 20 percent of the bacteria in our waterways come from pet waste? Now that really stinks! Cleaning up after your pet is the simplest thing you can do to keep harmful bacteria from being washed into our storm drains, and eventually into our waterways. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Make a Rain Barrel

A rain barrel collects rainwater that can be used later to water landscaping around your home. This can save most homeowners over 1,000 gallons of water a year! Collecting and using rainwater helps protect the environment and saves money and energy by reducing the demand for treated tap water. Learn how to make a rain barrel for your home in our H2O Quality 101 section below.

Minimize your use of fertilizers and pesticides

Keep fertilizers and pesticides off driveways, sidewalks, and roads where they would run off into storm drains. Don't apply them near waterways. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Only Rain Down The Drain

Storm drains connect your neighborhood directly to the nearest stream or body of water. They're different from sanitary sewers, which connect to a treatment facility. it's never a good idea to dump anything into a storm drain because it doesn't get treated and will pollute our waterways. To learn more about storm drains, check out our H2O Quality 101 section.

Recycle Your Oil

When changing your car's oil, please make sure to recycle the old oil. Be sure to clean up any spills by absorbing with kitty litter or sand, then dispose of properly. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Keep the Pavement Clear of Grass Clippings

Mulching grass clippings or leaving them on your lawn provides a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Mowing high helps control weed growth. Sweep up grass clippings from roadways and driveways, and DO NOT dump grass clippings or other plant materials into streets, catch basins, or streams — the nutrients will leach from them and enter nearby waterways, spurring unwanted algae growth. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Mark Storm Drains

Storm drain marking can help deter storm drain dumping and reduce non-point source pollution by informing residents that anything that goes down a storm drain goes directly into a waterbody without being treated. To be an H2O Hero and volunteer to coordinate a storm drain marking event, read our "Get Involved" section.

Maintain a Buffer Strip Along Waterways

Undisturbed (unmowed) vegetation along streams and drainage pathways will capture nutrients that wash off your lawn before they are discharged to the waterway. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Dispose of Hazardous Chemicals Properly

If your garage is anything like Larry's, it probably has its share of half-used cans of paint, cleaners and chemicals lying around. Some people dump them down the storm drain - or throw them in the trash - just to get rid of them. Learn the right way to dispose of these materials so they don't end up getting into our groundwater and our nearby lakes and streams. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Visit the Local Car Wash

Sure, Larry likes to keep his wheels looking hot. But he knows that washing his car at the local car wash - instead of in his driveway - is the best way to keep harmful detergents from getting into our local waterways. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Create a Rain Garden

A rain garden is a planted depression that is designed to absorb rainwater runoff from roofs and driveways. This reduces stormwater runoff by allowing rain to soak into the ground and replenish groundwater. By reducing runoff, rain gardens help protect water quality and reduce erosion and flooding. To install a rain garden in your yard, visit our "Get Involved" section.

At Home
For Teachers
For Kids
H2O Quality 101
About Us
Rochester Embayment
Your Watershed
Downspout Disconnect
Rain Gardens
Rain Barrels
Porous Pavers
Green Projects


Be an H2O Hero in your Community!

We need your help in protecting our streams and other waterways. Several local water quality programs depend on volunteers so there are many opportunities for you to be an H2O Hero. No special skills or qualifications are required and any materials that are needed are supplied free of charge. These programs are suitable for students and school groups, scouts, families, friends, clubs, or neighborhood associations. Volunteers are welcome to participate on a one- time basis for even an hour or two and ongoing volunteers are of course greatly appreciated.

Storm Drain Marking

Looking for a fun and easy volunteer opportunity that you can do in your own neighborhood? Storm drain marking is popular with school groups, scouts, neighbors, families, and friends. Volunteers install the weather resistant H2O markers next to the storm drain using special adhesive.

Download our volunteering flier.

The markers include the message “Keep Clean. Drains to Lake.” and are a great way to educate the community about stormwater pollution and to discourage illegal dumping. The markers also include the address for this website so residents can learn more about water quality.

Many residents do not know that the stormwater system in their neighborhood discharges stormwater runoff directly to the nearest stream or waterway. This stormwater is not treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Unfortunately, because of this lack of awareness, the improper disposal of materials such as unwanted paint, pet waste, and household chemicals into the storm drain is a widespread problem. In many neighborhoods, the stormwater system discharges to small streams which are especially vulnerable to pollution due to their relatively small size and volume of water.

In addition to installing the markers, volunteers place sturgeon door hangers, with more detailed information about protecting our local waterways, throughout the neighborhood.

All of the necessary supplies are available for free. Contact us for more information and check out our video below.

Watershed Clean Ups

Did you know that litter is also a water quality problem? When it rains, trash along the road or in a parking lot is washed into the storm sewer and discharged to the nearest waterbody. There are many annual watershed clean ups that are always in need of volunteers.

Local clean up events include Monroe County’s Pick Up the Parks, the City of Rochester’s Clean Sweep, and many town and village cleans ups. Or you could organize your own watershed clean up. For more information, visit Larry the H2O Hero on Facebook.

Every autumn, the Ocean Conservancy sponsors the International Coastal Clean Up with more than 500,000 volunteers in 112 countries around the world. In New York State, the American Littoral Society coordinates the event and volunteers can register their site online or sign up to help at one of the established locations. For many years, Durand and Ontario Beaches, as well as many sites in the Town of Greece, have been cleaned up by volunteers as part of this event. Visit Larry the H2O Hero on Facebook or contact us.

Planting Trees and Shrubs

The native plants that grow along a stream are an important part of the ecosystem and play a critical role in protecting water quality. The roots minimize steambank erosion while the leaves shade the stream helping to maintain proper stream temperature for fish. The vegetation also helps to filter stormwater runoff. Unfortunately, in many cases, as our communities were developed the vegetation along the stream was removed.

Volunteers, particularly school groups, are working to restore our waterways by planting trees and shrubs along the banks. Contact Us to learn about any ongoing efforts or to plan a new project.

Webster students plant trees along Mill Creek.

Brighton High School students planting shrubs along Buckland Creek.

Community volunteers working on the restoration of Buckland Creek at Brighton High School.

Buckland Creek at Brighton High School before restoration effort in place. Note the lack of natural vegetation along the banks.

Buckland Creek after restoration efforts, showing the vegetative buffer between the stream and the surrounding area.

Upcoming H20 Hero Events and Workshops

For pictures and information about local H2O Heroes and Projects, visit Larry's Facebook Page!

Download our Storm drain marking instructions