Waterwise Wednesday: Plastic Rain in the Rocky Mountains

Over 90% of Rocky Mountain rainwater samples gathered for a United States Geological Survey contained microplastics, plastics less 5 mm or less. While urban samples contained more plastic, samples from remote sites indicate microplastics may be more pervasive.

Some microplastics are released as tiny particles like fibers from synthetic clothing or car tire fragments. Others fibers come from the breakdown of larger plastic items like bags and bottles. The particles migrate and have been found in the remotest parts and people on the planet.

To see the report: https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2019/1048/ofr20191048.pdf…

Waterwise Wednesday: In Dew Time . . .

It’s dew season, when the clear, calm nights cause surface temperatures to fall below the dew point.

A nice rainstorm coupled with thick green vegetation, (like ripening fields, gardens, or thick lawns) and clear night skies could develop dew for several mornings until the moisture evaporates from the ground.

Dew time is part of the change of seasons here in the Panhandle and makes for wet treks to school, the alley trash can, or marching band practice.


Waterwise Wednesday: A Mower’s Lament

Yardwaste ranks as one of the top five surface water pollutants in the United States. Clippings in storm drains create nutrient overload that feed algal blooms and bacteria. The bacteria, who breathe dissolved oxygen in the water, decrease oxygen enough to kill off fish, aquatic insects, and other aquatic plants. This results in a hypoxic area, or dead zone, in the water.

Put grass clippings to better use:

– sweep or blow them back on the lawn for natural fertilizer
– use as mulch in the garden or a weed blanket along the alley
– compost it
– put in the yardwaste dumpster and the let the City compost it at the Yardwaste Facility

Waterwise Wednesday: I’m Melting

. . .So said the Wicked Witch of the West. And Greenland’s ice sheet too.

The second largest ice sheet in the world, lost a near record breaking 11 billion metric tons in a single day to the ocean last Thursday, August 1. (That’s about 4.4 million Olympic swimming pools worth of water.) Unusually high temperatures, 30 to 40 degrees above average, contributed to the record melt. Globally, heatwaves also created ice melts in Arctic tundra, Greenland fjords and European Alpine peaks where it usually stays permanently frozen.

Photo © Tomasz Tulik

Waterwise Wednesday: Why Water Management Matters

Photo © Norlito Gumapac

Chennai, India’s sixth largest city with 4.5 million people, has run out of water.

According to a study by the Anna University, Chennai lost 33 per cent of its wetlands and 24 percent of its agricultural land, (crucial for improving groundwater table) in the last one decade. Drought coupled with rampant development and construction built on reclaimed water bodies are largely to blame.


Waterwise Wednesday: Black Water

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

Cities flush fire hydrants to make sure the hydrants work properly and rid the system mains of corrosion, rust, and sediment.

If faucet water is dark or discolored after a City hydrant flush simply run the tap until the water is clear again. The black sediment is naturally occurring maganese that has reacted with sodium hypochlorite that is used to protect water from contamination as it travels through the pipe system.

Waterwise Wednesday: Tree Watering

Trees, like people, appreciate water during hot spells.

Poke a tool like a long screw driver into the soil near the tree. If the ground is rock solid, it’s time to water. If it’s wet or muddy hold off.

Many of a tree’s roots rest between 12-24 inches below the surface – so a long slow sprinkle of 1 to 2 inches of water should help reach these roots (unless it’s competing with lawn turf). Move the hose around the root zone, which reaches about 1.5 times the height of the tree, to cover the entire root system when watering.

Photo: South Broadway Plaza May 2019 by L. Sato

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Harvesting

Capture and reuse rain runoff to supplement regular watering and reduce demand on the public water system with these ideas.

1. Gently mound dirt along a plant’s dripline to hold and infiltrate runoff.

2. Re-use household wastewater from dehumidifiers or air conditioning condensers for irrigation.

3. Install a rain barrel or cistern. Rain barrels can store the water until the weather turns dry and is needed.

4. Plant a rain garden – the basin will hold runoff while providing the yard with color and pollinator habitat.

Photo via gilintx via Flickr CC

Waterwise Wednesday: Persistent Perchlorate


Photo © Laura Arredondo

Enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks. And please take time to carefully sweep firework launch and debris landing areas and properly dispose of the debris afterwards.

Perchlorate, a compound used as an oxidizing agent in fireworks (i.e., fuel to make the firework burn), persists in soil and water.

How persistent? Well, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial’s firework shows stopped in 2009. In a 2016 US Geological Survey high levels of perchlorate were still reported in the park – 38 micrograms in a groundwater sample and 54 micrograms/liter in a stream, both in excess of the EPA’s 15 micrograms per liter, and 274 times higher than samples taken outside the memorial park’s borders.

Waterwise Wednesday: Timing is Everything

Photo@Publicdomainphotos

Summer has officially arrived. And water use triples in Scottsbluff primarily due to lawn and landscape watering. Timing your watering can save you money and the city water supply.

1. Know how much water your landscape actually needs before you set your sprinkler. Automatic sprinkler systems can waste up to 50% more water than manual when timers are set and left instead of adjusted for current moisture and temperature.

2. Water in the early morning or after the sun goes down in the evening when its cooler and calmer. Its estimated that 50 percent of sprinkler water goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff.

3. Install a smart controller that uses weather data to determine when and how much to water.

Photo © Publicdomainphotos