Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

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  • You can help

    We all play a role in keeping those waters clean in our everyday actions at home, work, school and play. Simple stewardship actions can help keep pollution from reaching our waterways. In Clark County, our stormwater drains go directly to stormwater facilities or the creeks themselves. It is important to realize what could get into a storm drain, besides rain water. Learn more to make sure your everyday actions are protecting our watershed. 

    Read more

    clean water help article

    Pick up pet waste

    Pet waste left on the ground can be washed into storm drains that lead directly to our streams and wetlands. This waste carries harmful bacteria, which can affect the health of aquatic wildlife, ourselves and our children.

    More resources

    Fix auto leaks

    If you see discoloration (like a rainbow) in the water running down the street during a rainstorm, there is pollution up stream. Check your vehicle for leaks and get it fixed. When your car leaks fluids, it is often a sign of a larger problem that can lead to major engine damage and possibly an expensive repair bill.

    Oil and other vehicle fluids from cars are toxic. Fix your leak so that vehicle fluids don’t end up in puddles where kids and pets like to play!

    Vehicles drip millions of quarts of motor oil into the Columbia River basin every year. Oil and other petroleum products can harm wildlife and habitat. When it rains, stormwater runoff carries pollution to creeks, streams and rivers.

    Only rain down the drain

    In your neighborhood, streets drain downhill to a storm drain. These drains are connected to pipes that carry the water to a local creek, stream or river. It is important to remember that we need to keep all contaminants and pollution OUT of the storm drains.

    Make sure you properly dispose of waste materials like paint or motor oil. Many of these items can be recycled or reused. Also keep soaps, herbicides and pesticides out of water by following directions on the product labels and not using on hard surfaces that can wash to the drain.

    Help educate your neighbors by volunteering to mark a message on your neighborhood’s drain “Protect Water – Only Rain in Drain.” Clark County loans out stencil kits for free! These are a great community service, school or scout project.

    Water wise farms

    If you are a small acreage or farm property owner, there are number of steps you can take to protect the health of your property and your watershed. Our partner at WSU Extension hosts workshops on topics to benefit your property, such as understand your soils, managing stormwater runoff and tips for healthy animals.

    Your landscape is part of the solution

    Everyone loves a lush lawn, beautiful plants and a healthy hard for you to call home. There are lots of great ideas to help you protect stormwater runoff from pollution while creating your dream landscape. Learn about Grasscycling, use of native plants, healthy plant care, gardening tips, and water conservation techniques.

  • How to conserve


    First, it’s helpful to understand the 3 categories of water and then consider how you can conserve, save, and waste less:

    1. Blue water is fresh water from lakes, rivers, and sub-surface water or groundwater.
    2. Green water is rain which falls directly on crops.
    3. Greywater is water generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing. It may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, and certain household cleaning products. While greywater may look “dirty,” it is usually safe to be recycled or reused for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands.

    A note on bottled water: drinking bottled water itself doesn’t negatively affect our fresh water supplies. But, we should be aware that to manufacture the plastic bottle, 6.74 times the amount of the water in the bottle is used. Not to mention the other energy and resources used and the fact that 86 percent of water bottles end up in landfills!

    When looking at your own water use, begin by observing how much you waste. Do you have a leak in a faucet or a shower head that drips? That leaky faucet or shower could be losing almost 14 percent of the total water you use.

    Some no and low-cost tips for saving water inside your home:


    • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full.
    • Don’t run water continuously when washing dishes by hand. The average dishwasher uses about 10 gallons of water per load. Washing the same number of dishes by hand takes about 16 gallons. Newer, efficient dishwashers use as little as 5 gallons per cycle, which means they also consume less energy to heat the water.


    • Fix leaky faucets immediately. A leaky faucet, dripping once per second, wastes six gallons of water a day.
    • Install low-flow aerators on every faucet.
    • Don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth or shaving. With the tap running at full force, shaving takes 20 gallons of water, teeth-brushing takes 10 and hand-washing takes two.

    Bath & Laundry

    • Wash only full loads of laundry, or use the proper water level setting for your load size.
    • Take shorter showers and use less water in your bath. A full bathtub requires about 36 gallons of water. A five-minute shower using a water-conserving showerhead will use just 15 to 25 gallons. Showers and baths account for one-third of most families’ water use.


    • Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Each flush wastes water.
    • Check toilets for leaks.
    • Did you know 30 percent of your indoor water is used flushing the toilet? Your older toilet could be using way more than the new low flush toilet. If your older toilet flushes 3.5 gallons per flush, one person can use as much as 7,135 gallons per year just to flush a toilet. But, if you have a toilet that flushes 1.0 gallons per flush, one person can consume as little as 1,928 gallons per year. These “improved” toilets rely on an efficient bowl design and increased flushing velocity — instead of extra water — to remove wastes. If you’re thinking about making the switch, get recommendations about the best models from retailers and plumbers who have installed or used low-volume toilets.

    If you’re willing to invest a little money to use less water, consider installing water-efficient toilets, faucets and showerheads.

    For more information about water conservation, check out the Home Water Works website. It’s packed full of good tips and resources.

  • Water use & management

    Water, Water Everywhere

    More than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water but only 3% is considered fresh water. And of the available fresh water on the earth’s surface, only 3/10 of 1% is readily available for consumption. Because water is not something that we can produce, it is important to protect the quantity and quality of our existing supply. How we manage water in our yards is important to the future for our health, our children, and the planet.

    Read more

    nbb conserving water article

    Ways to conserve water:

    Reduce Traditional Lawn

    If you must have lawn, choose a drought tolerant type such as Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) or Rough & Ready or Fleur de Lawn (see all of ProTime’s eco lawns) to name just a few. Read more about lawn alternatives and lawn care in our Information Archive.

    Plant Trees & Shrubs

    Both trees and shrubs require significantly less water than do perennials and turf grass.

    Use Rain Garden Plants

    If you want to really conserve, choose rain garden plants. These can be trees, shrubs or perennials. Because they are riparian plants, they thrive in rain gardens.They well-tolerate periods of both excessive wetness and also excessive dryness. Check out the Rain Garden section of the Water Use & Management Information Archive for plant lists that are included in the how-to documents.

    Ways to manage stormwater run-off:

    Install Rain Gardens

    They are a really great way of keeping stormwater run-off on your property so it can be absorbed into the soil there. Benefit one is that it waters your plants. Benefit two is that is keeps the stormwater out of the storm system where it quite often results in erosion and pollution of waterways.

    Plant Densely

    In most forests there is very little erosion because the forest is covered almost completely with plants. The roots of all those plants pierce the soil and provide holes for rainwater to flow into to be absorbed by the soil. The rain water can either be held by the soil, or used by plants immediately, or it can continue flowing through the soil into an underground stream or aquifer. One way or another, the flow is slowed, and this gives the ecosystem a chance to use the water rather than the water running off into the streams or sewer systems.

    Use Terracing

    This is a method of slowing down the flow of water on a slope. The angle slope is transformed into a sort of stair steps; flat then drop then flat then drop. Terracing is a good choice when the slope is too steep for plants to grow on it.

    Learn more

    Explore the entire Information Archive

  • Drinking water

    Residents of Clark County obtain drinking water through public or private water systems.

    • Private water systems (i.e., individual wells) supply drinking water to 24% of Clark County residents which is about 31,000 systems servicing 93,000 people.
    • The majority of residents (75%) are served by large public water systems which include the large municipal systems. The vast majority of our water in Clark County comes from four underground aquifers, which are tapped by wells.
    • The City of Vancouver is the fourth largest provider of drinking water in the state of Washington, serving up 8.95 billion gallons to more than 200,000 people, all provided from groundwater sources. The City of Camas sources water from both surface and groundwater. In addition to 8 wells, water is drawn from Boulder and Jones Creeks. In addition, the City of Battle Ground, the City of Ridgefield, and the City of Washougal each provide water services for those communities and Clark Public Utilities provides public water services throughout most other areas of the community.

    Here is a pdfcross-section of the hydro-geologic structures in Clark County. For more information, call Clark Public Utilities at 360-992-8023.

  • Protecting groundwater

    Ways you can help protect groundwater and personal health

    If your property has a water well, make sure to conduct annual well checkups. In addition to protecting groundwater, yearly water testing and well maintenance can prevent costly maintenance, prolong the life of your well and prevent illness from fecal bacteria, nitrates and other contaminants. See the Washington State Department of Health’s website on safe drinking water and Clark County’s Public Health website for additional water well testing and maintenance information.

    You can also protect groundwater and personal health by:

    • Keeping hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil far away from your well.
    • Maintaining a “clean” zone of at least 100 feet between your well and any kennels or livestock operations.
    • Periodically checking the well cover or well cap on top of the well casing to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out dirt, insects and rodents.

    Another way to protect groundwater is to conserve it. Groundwater is a limited resource. In Clark County, groundwater aquifers supply almost all the water for drinking, agriculture, and other uses. Increasing demands on water supplies and droughts have made conserving water more important. Everyone can start by monitoring everyday water use around the home. For water-saving tips, see the EPA’s WaterSense website.

    Residents with on-site septic systems can also protect groundwater by ensuring their system is inspected regularly. See Clark County’s Public Health website on septic systems for more information.

    As residents of the rainy Pacific Northwest, we might assume that clean, fresh water will always be ours for the asking. But pollution, urbanization, and other population pressures challenge this assumption. Clark County administers the Clean Water Program to safeguard the quality of our water and comply with the federal Clean Water Act. For more information, see the EPA’s website about the Clean Water Act.

  • Naturally Beautiful Backyards

    Naturally Beautiful Backyards (NBB) is a program that can help you be as green in your yard as you are in your house. There are things you do in your indoor life to be green, likewise, there are things you can do in your yard to be green as well. And not just in your backyard!

    The NBB program encourages:

    Make It Naturally Beautiful

    Learning about how to work with nature will make you a better and more confident gardener. Encouraging birds, bees, and wildlife into your yard by using native plants, tolerating insects and a little damage, building great soil, recycling and composting waste materials, and using fewer chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) will enable your yard to contribute positively to a healthier environment.

    Browse our pages and learn how to make your yard naturally beautiful.


    Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting