Waterwise Wednesday: Water Cooling Tactics

Photo © Zhigong Zhang

Try these simple hacks that use minimal water to help keep cool.

1. Cold compress. Refrigerate damp washcloths or sponges then apply to pulse pulse points like wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and/or behind your knees where blood vessels are close to the surface.

2. Ice Fan. Place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice’s surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.

3. Wet Blanket. Dampen a sheet with cool water, wring well (or spin in the washer) and use it as a blanket. The evaporation keeps you cool through the night. Recommend using a dry towel under your body and/or waterproof mattress pad to avoid soaking the mattress.

4. Wet Curtain. Hang a damp sheet in front of an open window, or fan. The evaporation caused by the breeze on the sheet should cool the room.

Waterwise Wednesday: Fire(works) and Water

Photo: S. Schanaman

Fireworks contain Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic chemicals (PBTs) like copper, lead, perchlorate, and lithium to create their effects and remain on firework debris. PBTs remain in the environment for very long periods of time, are highly resistant to degradation, easily enter and quickly accumulate in the food chain and can be toxic to both humans and animals.

– Please pick up firework debris. Let spent fireworks sit only until they’re not longer hot or burning then move them to a bucket with water.

– Water used to soak spent fireworks should be flushed in a toilet so the water can be treated at the wastewater treatment plant. Please do not pour the water down the gutter or on the lawns to avoid contaminating ground and water with PBTs.

– Sweep small firework particles and put them in a plastic bag for disposal in the trash. The particles are prone to travel in the wind or in water runoff spreading PBTs to soils and waterways.

Waterwise Wednesday: Tree Watering

Photo © Boris Ryaposov

Water newly planted trees. Recent high temperatures coupled with wind and low humidity make new trees more susceptible to stress.

1. Water trees slowly at the base of plants to give them a deep soak. Avoid frequent short waterings, like the lawn, which provide only shallow moisture.

2. Water in the morning to avoid evaporation and help the tree cope the heat of the sun throughout the day.

3. Soaker hoses or tree bags work well for the slow soak tree watering and a 3″ layer of can provide a new tree a buffer from heat, retain water, and avoid root competition with weeds.

Trees are valuable assets to our community. They help shade from heat, shield from cold, manage stormwater, prevent erosion and fight air, water, and noise pollution. So set them up for success with good watering now.

Waterwise Wednesday: National Rivers Month

North Platte River at Scottsbluff July 2019 by L. Sato

We celebrate U.S. rivers and their benefits throughout June.
– Like the Missouri River, the country’s longest at 2,500 miles
– the Mississippi River, the widest, 11 miles across at one point in Minnesota.
– and Nebraska’s 79,056 miles of river

One out of every three people gets their drinking water from a river or stream in the United States. And nationally we spend about $97 billion annually on river-related recreation and tourism.

Drinking water and recreation are two reasons to protect water quality by picking up after your pet, using fertilizers sparingly, and properly disposing of trash.

Waterwise Wednesday: LID Management

Lied Scottsbluff Public Library Bioswale, Scottsbluff, Nebraska September 2015
Photo by L. Sato

Low impact development (LID) or green infrastructure encourages rain to infiltrate where it falls, reducing opportunities for runoff to collect pollutants and reach nearby waters. LID tends to be more attractive, increase property values and provide more environmental benefits than traditional stormwater management methods.


The Lied Scottsbluff Library Bioswale routes roof runoff through the bioswale. The green space reduces runoff to the storm sewer, provides natural water treatment for runoff that overflows to the storm sewer, and creates an oasis for insects and pollinators (and the birds that feed on them).

Waterwise Wednesday: Lawn Watering

Photo © Dreamstime.com

Warmer weather brings on lawn watering. Follow these tips for efficient and effective watering.

1. Water early in the morning, before 10 AM to avoid wind and evaporation from higher temperatures.

2. In ground sprinkler systems are most effective. Pulsating or tractor sprinklers are recommended for manual watering – the heavier drops drift less.

3. Soak 6 inches of soil or do the screwdriver test to determine soil moisture. Push a long-blade screwdriver straight down into the lawn. There’s adequate moisture if the blade penetrates the soil easily depth of 6 inches. If it doesn’t water a bit more.

4. Water twice a week max so the grass develops a deep healthy root system.

5. Or let it go dormant. Grass goes dormant in hot weather, just like it does in the cold of winter. Periodic watering will keep the soil moist and protect roots without killing grass, just like a spring shower or winter snow.


Waterwise Wednesday: Hand Washing Songs


Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

Washing hands to the Happy Birthday Song has long been touted as an effective practice for preventing the spread of illness. But, perhaps, you’re tired of singing Happy Birthday an average of nine times per day. Here are some 20-second alternatives:

1. The narrative introduction to Star Trek
2. The Lord’s Prayer
3. The chorus lines to a number of pop songs including:
You Need To Calm Down– Taylor Swift
Party in the USA– Miley Cyrus
Firework– Katy Perry
Mr. Brightside– The Killers
Jolene– Dolly Parton
Don’t Stop Believin’- Journey
Macarena– Los Del Rio
4. Recite Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias”, or another short poem of your choice
5. Count to 20

Waterwise Wednesday: Good Drinking Weather

For your trees, that is. This weeks warmer temperatures provide a good opportunity for a mid-winter watering for landscape trees.Trees that are newly planted or near the south or west sides of a building are most susceptible to winter drought.

Check if the tree needs watering by pushing a screw driver into the soil near the tree. If it only goes in an inch or two, the tree needs water. If the screw driver goes into the ground and returns with a bit of mud, there’s adequate moisture If it comes covered in mud, there’s more than plenty of moisture.

For thirsty trees, provide 2-4 gallons of water on a 40 degree or warmer day. Apply water mid-day to allow time for soaking before possible freezing at night.

Photo © Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Waterwise Wednesday: 1.1.1. Challenge

Photo by Ctacik

Challenge: one plate, one bowl and one glass per person per day. It’s a minimalist challenge to promote cleanliness and waste reduction.

The challenge forces immediate cleanup and tidying so dishes will be available for the next meal. Less dishes combined with efficient dishwashing can reduce the amount of water required for kitchen cleanup.

Waterwise Wednesday: Hazardous Household Cleaners

Photo © Johanna Goodyear

Household cleaners we use to sanitize, degrease, whiten and wash can also harm water. The “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)” – Phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia are common ingredients in cleansers.

Phosphorus composes 30 to 40 percent of dishwasher detergents. Ammonia is included in products for degreasing, sanitizing and removing allergens. Nitrogen is found in glass cleaners, surface cleaning products, and floor cleaners.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia cannot be removed by waste treatment processes. Instead they enter waterways, build up and cause accelerated and excessive growth of some types of plant life including algae. The dense vegetation clogs waterways, crowds out animal life and other marine plants.

The large amount of plant material also depletes oxygen in the water as it decays. The lack of oxygen in water suffocates freshwater marine life, further degrading the water with decay.

Choose, or make, cleansers free of VOCs. So when you clean your home, your water stays clean too.