Waterwise Wednesday: Caring for Snow

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

Urban snowmelt runoff carries diverse pollutants, like gas combustion products, snowmelting agents, and automotive exhaust, which threaten the quality of the receiving waters, like the North Platte River.

Pollutants can affect water quality faster two ways in winter. First, snow collects contaminants and releases them in concentrated form during melts. Second, the partially frozen state of rivers lessen the ability for self-purification.

Keeping walks and driveways clear, using snowmelt “sparingly and caringly”, and driving only when necessary are good winter water quality measures.

As much as 75 percent of water supplies in some western states are derived from snowmelt, according to the United States Geological Service (USGS). The Nebraska Panhandle relies heavily on snowmelt for our water supply – so taking care of our snow means taking care of our water.


Waterwise Wednesday: Pass the Salt?

This week’s snow may require some walkway de-icing before holiday gatherings tomorrow. There several options for ice melt, each with its own advantages.

1. Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is inexpensive and effective. It works well in temperatures over 20 degrees. However, it is toxic to plants, corrosive, and can burn pet paws.

2. Magnesium chloride less corrosive to concrete, less irritating to skin, and less toxic to plants. It is effective to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Calcium chloride works in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Very little calcium chloride is needed to handle most icy conditions.

4. Potassium chloride and urea are considered safe to use around vegetation. Both require a higher rate of application than the other options and work down 12 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is safe for the environment, biodegradable, and non-corrosive to concrete and metal. It works to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. CMA doesn’t need to be applied as much as rock salt to be effective, but does need to applied before the snow and ice accumulate to be most effective.


Waterwise Wednesday: Get out of the FOG

Photo © Stephane Tougard

Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) clog pipes similar to the way they clog arteries. FOGs coat the inside of pipes, harden, and build up layers until a pipe is clogged.

Dispose of FOGs correctly. Cool grease after cooking then put into a bag or other sealable container that can be put in the trash.


Waterwise Wednesday: Plastic Laundry

Clothing, especially those made from synthetic fabric, sheds microfibers when washed. The microfibers are small enough to slip through washing machine filters, dryer lint catchers, and municipal water treatment. Synthetic fibers contribute to microplastic pollution in the nation’s waterways since they cannot degrade.

Reduce microplastic/fiber pollution with these tips:

1. Wash less. Wash clothes only when they’re visibly dirty or smelly. Sponge or dust off little messes and air out if it doesn’t really need a wash.

2. Do full loads at coolest temperature to get clothes clean when washing is necessary. This helps preserve fabric and colors.

3. Line dry. Dryers and heat break down fabric faster and increase shedding.

4. Choose natural fibers. Cotton, wool, linen, hemp, silk and lyocell are natural biodegradable fabric fibers.

5. Can’t part with the fleece pullover or nylon running tights? Try a guppybag or coraball to help capture the microfibers.

Graphic: Statista based on research at Plymouth University, UK

Clean Construction Access

Contractors should be respectful of citizens in neighborhoods where construction is taking place. Nobody wants to drive through mud on their way home. A proper construction access minimizes track out onto City streets. Contractors should take as much pride in the ‘PROCESS’ of constructing a project as they do in the ‘FINISHED PRODUCT.’

Waterwise Wednesday: Halloween Treat Tips

Savoring candy treats is part of the Halloween experience, ward off cavities with these water tips.

1. Eat and Drink (Water). Enjoy a glass of tap water with candy or chocolate to help keep sugar rinsed off the teeth.

2. Swish and rinse teeth with water after enjoying a sugary snack.

3. Consider a fluoride rinse when brushing or drink flouridated tap water. Flouride helps strengthen teeth to prevent cavities.
(Scottsbluff does not flouridate, Gering does).

4. Encourage brushing and flossing after a treat session.

5. Choose better sweets for teeth.

Graphic: America’s Pediatric Dentists

Stormwater Infiltration Ideas

There is no ‘bad time’ for planning which plants to use for your project. For more information on proper native vegetation please email ‘stormwater@kearneygov.org’ or call 308-233-3273. You can also stop by the City of Kearney Public Works Department at 1919 15th Ave.