Waterwise: Only Rain in the Drain

Graphic: EPA

Unlike the sanitary sewer, water entering storm drains goes directly to the North Platte River without cleaning or treatment.

Any substances caught in stormwater flow contributes to the contamination and degradation of the river. That’s why ONLY rain runoff or snowmelt is allowed to in the gutter.

Waterwise: More Than a Pretty Parking Lot

Parking Lots 8 & 16 in Downtown Scottsbluff Photo: L. Sato

Scottsbluff’s downtown parking lots provide more than just parking and pretty greenspace.

The gardens are designed to help curb pollution from snow and rain runoff through infiltration and phytoremediation (the use of plants to fight pollutants), make snow removal more efficient in the winter, reduce reflective heat in the summer, provide pollinator habitat, help recharge groundwater reserves, and feature regionally native plants and trees for the Nebraska Panhandle.

Waterwise: FOG Disposal


Avoid putting Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOGs) down the drain to prevent clogs.

Residential customers should cool and contain FOGs in leak proof containers for disposal in the trash.

City of Scottsbluff restaurants and businesses with oil traps are required to have traps cleaned once containment reaches 20% or more of capacity. Monthly maintenance is reported to the City each quarter and annual inspections by the City to check traps are conducted per City Code.

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Re-use

Photo © Rob Hughes


Cleaning the fish tank? Use the water for non-edible plants instead of throwing away the water. The fishy water is actually a fertilizer rich with beneficial bacteria, potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen.


When refreshing a pet’s water dish, give the stale water to plants or trees instead of washing down the drain. Leftover drinking water, and ice cubes can be given to plants too.


Waterwise Wednesday: National Water Quality Month

Photo © Jinfeng Zhang

August is National Water Quality Month when we focus on protecting fresh water sources. Protect water quality from pollution of the top six surface water pollutants:

• Vehicles: Fix leaks right away to prevent fluids from seeping into the ground.

• Petwaste: Pick up and properly dispose in the trash or toilet. Animal waste contains nitrogen which can remove oxygen from the water as it degrades, harming aquatic life.

• Yardwaste: Sweep clippings out back on the lawn. Yardwaste can clog storm sewer systems.

• Fertilizer: Use only when necessary and according to the directions. Heavy rainfall or watering can cause these chemicals to leak into groundwater sources. Try using organic fertilizers like compost or mulch instead of commerical fertilizer.

• Sediment: Avoid paving your properties which creates more runoff. Plant native trees and plants to hold soil in place and infiltrate water. Reuse clippings as mulch or compost to protect exposed soil.

• Litter: Reduce, reuse, and recycle to lessen waste. Get trash in the trash can and recycle plastics.

Waterwise Wednesday: Cooling Tips

No air conditioning? Stay cool with these water tips:

1. Drink cold water – ideally ice water. Keep ice water in a reusable insulated water bottle to sip throughout the day to cool off and stay hydrated.

2. Dip feet in cool water, just enough to cover the top of the feet. While the feet soak, dab a cold washcloth or ice pack on pulse points — temples, neck, elbow crooks, wrists, behind the knees, and ankles.

3. Take a tepid or cool shower or bath.

4. Chill sheets and take a freezer pack to bed. Wrap the pack in a washcloth and put it in a water-tight Ziploc bag to avoid leaks and condensation.

5. Spritz curtains with water or hang a damp sheet in front of an open window or fan. The breeze evaporates water as the it passes over the damp curtains or sheet. Setting a tray or bowl of ice in front of a fan is another option.

Photo © Paweł Szpytma

Waterwise Wednesday: Summer Water

Scottsbluff water use triples in the summer and about 2/3 goes to landscape watering. Save money, energy, and water with wiser outdoor water use.

1. Avoid overwatering – aim for .75 to 1.5 inches a week depending on the week’s temperatures. Or do the footprint test – if the grass springs up, moisture levels are good. If the grass footprint stays flat, time to water.

2. Water in short sessions to promote absorption instead of flood irrigating.

3. Mow at least 3 inches high to retain moisture and lower water demand.

4. In the long-term, invest in native and drought tolerant landscaping that are hardier and require less water and chemical for their upkeep.

5. Install drip and/or smart water systems to water only where necessary and when needed.

Photo © Publicdomainphotos