Waterwise Wednesday: Stop Food Waste Day

Cold food – salami and fresh vegetables served on plate

“Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States,” according to the National Resource Defense Council (2012).  

Annually, 133 billion pounds, about 219 pounds per person, of food is wasted, that equals 30–40 % of the food supply produced in the United States.  Food waste creates the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and a large source of US methane emissions.   

 Stop Food Waste by:

  1. Shopping smart
    • buy only what you need or what you know you’ll use before  food goes bad
    • ask for smaller portions or take left-overs home to eat when eating out
    • Use serving size information on the Nutrition Facts label to help portion meals or snacks.
  2. Store smart – Food spoilage accounts for over 60% of food waste.
    • Check the fridge often to keep track of what you have and what needs to be used.
    • Keep the refrigerator temperature at 40° F  or below and the freezer at 0° F to keep foods safe.
    • Use your freezer! Most foods will keep in the freezer until ready to eat.
    • Follow the 2-Hour Rule. For safety reasons, don’t leave perishables out at room temperature for more than two hours, unless you’re keeping it hot or cold. If the temperature is above 90° F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than one hour. Also, remember to refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
  3. Eat Smart!
    • Eat the whole food – don’t miss out on the nutrients in the skins of fruits and vegetables
    • Learn about food product dating –  know the difference between “sell by”, “best by” and “use by” labels.

Photo © Miroslav Beneda

Waterwise Wednesday: Arbor Day

Photo © Melinda Nagy

Trees help manage manage stormwater runoff and protect water by reducing runoff that can carry pollutants to waterways.

– Tree leaves help reduce erosion caused by falling rain by intercepting droplets

– Trees provide surface area for rain to land and evaporate on their leaves, branches and bark.

-Tree roots soak up water and create soil conditions in the soil that promote infiltration.

– Trees can filter pollutants out of the water that moves through their cells and even the soil near the roots.

Plant a tree on Arbor Day, Nebraska’s homegrown holiday, next Saturday, April 30.

Waterwise Wednesday: National Garden Day

Healthy gardens start with healthy soil.

“Healthy soil contains aggregates that help it bind together, preventing erosion and run-off. It can hold more water, so plants fare better in drought. It contains more bacteria and fungi that help plants fight diseases and pests. And healthy soil also contains more minerals and nutrients that feed plants.” (Rodale Institute.org)

Graphic: USDA

Waterwise Wednesday: Groundwater Recharge

Photo © Dreamstock

Groundwater naturally recharges as rainfall or other surface water infiltrates into the ground. Precipitation falls on the land, soaks through the soil and moves to the water table. Natural recharge can also occur when water seeps from rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands to the water table. Much of Gering’s groundwater recharge occurs this way from the North Platte River and canal systems.

However, low precipitation this winter means groundwater levels haven’t recharged to typical levels. This makes water conservation more important.

Plan now to conserve water with:
– native plant landscapes
– efficient watering systems set with water saving practices like a drip system set for early morning or late evening watering and moisture sensor to avoid over watering.
– water harvesting practices like rain barrels or directing downspouts to lawn and garden areas
– utilizing indoor water saving techniques like shorter showers, full laundry and dishwasher loads and low-flow faucet taps and shower heads.

Waterwise Wednesday: World Water Day

Most of us take water service for granted – a quick turn of the tap provides clean drinkable water and drains take dirty water to the treatment plant to be cleaned.

Monday, March 22, was World Water Day, dedicated to water related issues like access to clean water, drinking water, sanitation and sustainability.

World Water Day 2021

Waterwise Wednesday: The Flow’in of the Green

Photo: AP/Jeff Roberson

Since 1962, the Chicago River has been dyed green in honor Saint Patrick’s Day. The Chicago Plumbers Union mixes 40 pounds of powdered vegetable-based dye into a quarter mile stretch of river that stays shamrock green for about 24 to 48 hours.

The dye is a secret recipe the plumbers originally developed to trace leaks in buildings. And, yes, the dye is environmentally friendly for the beavers and 70+ species of fish that live in the river year round.

Waterwise Wednesday: Spring Fever

Photo © Publicdomainphotos

Spring is just around the corner. Learn to mimic nature in this year’s landscape to capture, treat and reuse stormwater which also conserves, preserves and protects our water and water quality.

– Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees that won’t need as much watering once established. Group plants together based on similar water needs.

– Explore alternatives to a lawn-based yard. Consider adding a bioswale or rain garden to capture and infiltrate runoff.

– Disconnect down spouts and direct roof runoff to gardens and lawns instead, putting runoff to good use.

– Convert paved areas to more permeable surfaces to promote infiltration and groundwater recharge.

– Use compost or weed-free mulch on your garden to hold soil moisture and help keep soil from washing away.

Waterwise Wednesday: Goin’ to the Dogs (and Cats)

Photo © Sunheyy

February holds several dog and cat designations: Dog Education Month, National Cat Health Month, Pet Dental Health Month and Responsible Pet Owners Month.

Part of good pet care is properly disposing of their waste. Pet waste is a leading source of both nutrient and bacteria pollution to urban streams and waterways. Feces carry concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and pathogens like Salmonella, E. Coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.

Pet waste pathogens threaten the safety garden grown food and drinking water supplies and can lead to severe intestinal diseases in humans when ingested.

Avoid expose family and friends by picking up and properly disposing pet waste. Pet waste be collected then either flushed or sacked and placed in the trash.

Waterwise Wednesday: No Salt, Please

big salt in the plate isolated over white

Just one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water creates a concentration toxic to some aquatic life and increases the corrosivness of water.

Road salts and most deicers contain chloride. When the snow and ice melt, the salty runoff flows down the storm drains to the North Platte River. Chloride is virtually impossible to remove from a waterbody.

Avoid chloride pollution with these tips:
– Shovel early and often to prevent snow compaction and ice formation.

– Scrape ice with an ice scraper or ice chisel.

– Salt or de-ice as a last resort. Salt or de-ice ONLY if pavement temperature is warm enough for application to be effective. Otherwise, lightly sprinkle sand for traction.

– Sweep residue after the melt to prevent residual salt, de-icer, or sand from washing into storm drains.

Photo © Ivan Kopylov

Waterwise Wednesday: Cold Weather Water Protection

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

This week’s sustained freezing temperatures could wreck havoc on water pipes. Protect your pipes by:

– Opening cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.
– Letting water drip slowly from inside faucets.
– Keep the doors shut on an attached garage if plumbing is routed through the space.
– Protect pipes that have frozen in the past

If the pipes freeze:
– Shut off the water immediately.
– Thaw slowly by applying heat with a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water.
– After thawing slowly turn water on to check for cracks and leaks.