Kelsey Van Deusen is the city of Red Wing environmental services manager

Can you feel it coming? The sunshine, the warmer temperatures, the melting snow, the dog waste on the lawn, the salt on the car, the sand in the yard ... .

Spring cleaning is just around the corner, but remember a few things as you start your cleanup this year. Everything in the streets drains to the Mississippi River. All the chemicals, salt, and yard waste from our cleanup activities can greatly damage our river.

Here are some simple things you can do to help.

• Don't let car wash water drain into the street. Use a commercial car wash or wash in an area where the water will soak into the ground, such as parking your car on your lawn to wash it rather than parking on your driveway.

Let your lawn filter all of that soap, salt, and grime, rather than letting it run into our storm sewers and into our river.

• Clean up the pet waste. Pet waste is a large contributor of bacteria and unwanted nutrients in stormwater runoff. Disposing of pet waste in the trash helps keep our river clean.

• Direct your downspout to beneficial use. All of the snow melting off of your roof can mean a lot of running water close to your foundation.

Keep that water off of paved surfaces to prevent ice from forming during the cold nights. Instead, try directing it towards a rain garden or low spot that will allow the water to infiltrate into the lawn.

• Keep the sand and yard debris out of the street. Yard work is tiring. It's so easy to rake the sand and leaves right into the gutter ,but give our river a break and scoop it up when you're done raking.

While the city does have a rigorous spring street sweeping campaign, it's impossible to be everywhere at once. If you leave that yard waste in the street, it will start making its way to the river.

Let's make this spring an epic spring for clean water! When it comes to storm sewers, "If in doubt, keep it out!"