Waterwise Wednesday: Dirty Laundry

Photo © Andrey Bourdioukov

Cleaning synthetic clothes dirties the environment with microfibers according to a study by UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

The microfibers shed during washing and drying then flow in the wastewater to the treatment plant. About 5% of the microfibers accumulate in the sludge which is ultimately used to make compost fertilizer. Smaller percentages are released with treated water back into waterways or landfilled.

Amazingly, that 5% has become,”5.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of synthetic microfibers emitted from apparel washing between 1950 and 2016, with 2.9 Mt finding their way into waterbodies and a combined 2.5 Mt emitted onto terrestrial environments (1.9 Mt) and landfilled (0.6 Mt),” says the Science Daily article.

According to the researchers, simple cheap solutions can prevent microfiber release at the source. Microfiber filters in dryers, selecting a gentler wash methods, washing clothes less often, and foregoing synthetic fabrics among the list.

For more information see the full article at Science Daily

Waterwise Wednesday: Out of Names

Photo © Publicdomainphotos

A little water trivia today.

Wilfred will be the last named Atlantic hurricane of 2020 given to the low pressure system off the coast of West Africa IF it develops into a cyclone.

If that happens, the Atlantic region will name any subsequent 2020 hurricanes with letters of the Greek alphabet, only the second time since naming hurricanes began in 1953.

The World Meteorological Association (WMO) designates twenty-one tropical storm names for a particular region every year. So far this year, the Atlantic region spawned 20 storms.

Waterwise Wednesday: Fall Tree Tips

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

Trees serve as vital parts of our community’s green infrastructure, helping protect our homes from weather elements and extreme temperatures.

Help trees as we go into Fall by applying a 3-4 inches of mulch in a 3-6 foot ring around trees and shrubs. Keep the mulch from touching the tree’s trunk.

Check that trees adequate soil moisture, deep watering as necessary until the ground freezes. Soil should be moist to a depth of about 12-18 inches. Water the entire area underneath the tree’s drip-line if possible.

Don’t fertilize trees now and avoid pruming as trees and shrubs need to harden off before going into winter. If pruning must be done, wait until the plant is dormant.

Good Fall care will help trees flourish and continue to their vital work as part of our community’s green infrastructure.

Waterwise Wednesday: Remember to Rinse Reusables

Just a friendly reminder to wash re-usable supplies to keep them safe and healthy.


– Water bottles should be washed daily inside and out with hot water and dish soap. Remember to wash the jar lip and lid too. Dry thoroughly or air dry to prevent bacteria growth.


– Lunch containers should also be washed daily. Remember to wash the lunch box or sack weekly as they can become easily contaminated with food and liquid. And yes, most foam/softsided lunch sacks can be machine washed and line dried.


– Launder Reusable Grocery Sacks especially after toting meats or other packages which may leak or condensate. Simply machine wash and dry.


– Handbags, Backpacks and Totes get set on a variety of surfaces including floors. Launder regularly to wash out the grime.

Waterwise Wednesday: Waterwise and Fire Resistant

Graphic courtesy of LiveOakWildfire.com

Native plants root deeply and retain water more easily, making them less likely to burn. Its another reason to consider adding more native plant species to your home landsape.

In the 30-feet surrounding your home – the Lean,Clean, and Green Zone of defensible fire space – consider adding native plants and shrubs like coneflower, stonecrop, blue fescue, sumac, cotoneaster. lants located within this 30-foot area should be green and irrigated during fire season.

Graphic: liveoakwildfire.com

Waterwise Wednesday: Wise Watering

Photo © publicdomainstockphotos

We’re in the hot and dry spell of summer here. Water landscapes wisely to help them thrive:

– Only water landscape plants when dry. Plants suffer more from overwatering than underwatering.

– Water the plant’s root zone, not the foilage, to save water and reduce disease.

– Adjust sprinkler heads to water plants, not sidewalks and curbs.

– Set timers to avoid over-watering

– Plan now to install more native shrubs and groundcover plants to reduce water demand in the future.

Waterwise Wednesday: Smart Water for Trees

Lawns can go dormant in a dry spell, but trees and shrubs remain active during growing season. We’re in the dry part of summer now, with moderate drought conditions when surface water level declines and plant growth can be stunted so please continue to water trees and shrubs.

When you water, wet the entire root area of the tree and soak the soil approximately 12 inches deep. A 6-to-8 foot tree uses about 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of water once a week.

Soaker hoses, trickle or drip systems can feed the root zone with minimum surface wetting and water waste. Alternatively, a berm around the tree or shrub base may be filled with water for slow infiltration and percolation into the root zone.


Photo © Publicdomainphotos

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.