Keep Your Car out
of the Mississippi River

Cars cause air pollution, many of us know that. But did you know that cars are polluting the Mississippi River? That oil spot on your driveway or parking space is actually a source of water pollution. When water flows over pavement, it picks up everything in its way. If motor oil and other fluids leak out of your car, they are washed into street storm drains and then directly into the Mississippi River.

Even the smallest concentration of automotive products can cause contamination.

You do not need to live next to the Mississippi River to help it.

These small things can make a big difference:

Don't Dump! It is illegal to dump motor oil, antifreeze, battery acid or other auto products down a storm drain. Americans dump an estimated 120 million gallons of oil down storm drains each year. Most oil change centers take motor oil or call your solid waste office for more recycling and drop off information. In Hennepin County call 612-348-6500 or 612-348-6509 and in Ramsey County call 651-633-EASY.

Wash on the Lawn! The water, soap, dirt and rust from washing cars on a paved area flows through a storm drain to the Mississippi River without being treated.

Repair Leaks! Auto leaks form pollution puddles on your street or driveway and eventually get washed into storm drains. If you find a leak, soak it up with cat litter, sweep it up and throw it in your garbage.

What is urban runoff?

You can see urban runoff every time it rains, or in the spring when the snow melts -- water runs off roofs, trickles across parking lots and flows down street gutters. In urban areas, most water from rain, snowmelt or from sprinkling your yard flows through storm drains and into a vast network of pipes. These pipes carry water directly from your neighborhood to our local rivers, streams and wetlands. This water becomes polluted when it picks up things like grass clippings, leaves, pesticides, motor oil and pet waste and flushes them into storm drains and eventually into the Mississippi River.

Keep it Tuned!
A well tuned car uses as much as 20% less gasoline.

More Air!
For every pound that your tires are under-inflated, your car loses 1% in gas mileage.

Drive Less!
Research shows that the most polluted runoff comes from heavily traveled streets and highways. As your car leaks, tires and brake linings wear down, all of this gets washed directly to the Mississippi River. Walk, ride your bike and plan your trips to minimize mileage.

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Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987