Antifreeze is essential to our cold weather travel, but it also presents a potential problem. Just a few drops of antifreeze carelessly spilled on a driveway or street can harm the environment and endanger the health of neighborhood pets.
These puddles, even when quite small, not only harm neighborhood pets, but also destroy vegetation and fish living in area streams and lakes, such as the Wolf River and McKellar Lake. Antifreeze has a high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) which depletes the oxygen needed for fish, plants and other animals to live, disrupting the ecosystem.
While suburban driveways may seem a long distance from the banks of McKellar Lake, chemicals and debris left on the streets of any residential area in Memphis ultimately end up in our streams and lakes.
When it rains, water washes over streets, parking lots and driveways and flows directly down the nearest storm drain. The storm water runoff sweeps up everything in its path including leaves, litter, lawn chemicals, pet waste, garbage and puddles of antifreeze.
The runoff travels through the storm drains and empties into the concrete "channels" that lead to three major streams, the Loosahatchie River, Nonconnah Creek and the Wolf River. These waterways discharge their contents directly into McKellar Lake and the Mississippi River.
It is important to properly dispose of used antifreeze, which has picked up lead and other materials from the engine and radiator. In conjunction with the City of Memphis, the Shelby County Environmental Improvement Commission holds periodic household waste collection events to collect and dispose of potentially harmful materials. To obtain additional information about these collection events, contact the SCEIC at 387-5705.
If you change your own antifreeze, make sure all spills are thoroughly cleaned up. Clean all spills and properly dispose of the rags used to wipe up the spills.