The average US person’s water footprint for power production in the US averages to 39 gallons per person per day on according to WaterFootprint.org. And nearly 25% of all residential power consumed stems from idle appliances and devices.
Save water and energy:
– Unplug phone chargers, laptop charges, and game consoles when not in use.
– Shut down computers at the end of the day
– Flip off power strips when done with the devices
– Use power strips or smart strips to cluster multiple devices onto one switch. (e.g., computer, printer, and router or TV and video game console)
– Unplug the coffee maker, washer, dryer, or microwave if not using. Digital displays require a constant draw of power.
Urban snowmelt runoff carries diverse pollutants, like gas combustion products, snowmelting agents, and automotive exhaust, which threaten the quality of the receiving waters, like the North Platte River.
Pollutants can affect water quality faster two ways in winter. First, snow collects contaminants and releases them in concentrated form during melts. Second, the partially frozen state of rivers lessen the ability for self-purification.
Keeping walks and driveways clear, using snowmelt “sparingly and caringly”, and driving only when necessary are good winter water quality measures.
As much as 75 percent of water supplies in some western states are derived from snowmelt, according to the United States Geological Service (USGS). The Nebraska Panhandle relies heavily on snowmelt for our water supply – so taking care of our snow means taking care of our water.
This week’s snow may require some walkway de-icing before holiday gatherings tomorrow. There several options for ice melt, each with its own advantages.
1. Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is inexpensive and effective. It works well in temperatures over 20 degrees. However, it is toxic to plants, corrosive, and can burn pet paws.
2. Magnesium chloride less corrosive to concrete, less irritating to skin, and less toxic to plants. It is effective to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Calcium chloride works in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Very little calcium chloride is needed to handle most icy conditions.
4. Potassium chloride and urea are considered safe to use around vegetation. Both require a higher rate of application than the other options and work down 12 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is safe for the environment, biodegradable, and non-corrosive to concrete and metal. It works to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. CMA doesn’t need to be applied as much as rock salt to be effective, but does need to applied before the snow and ice accumulate to be most effective.
Clothing, especially those made from synthetic fabric, sheds microfibers when washed. The microfibers are small enough to slip through washing machine filters, dryer lint catchers, and municipal water treatment. Synthetic fibers contribute to microplastic pollution in the nation’s waterways since they cannot degrade.
Reduce microplastic/fiber pollution with these tips:
1. Wash less. Wash clothes only when they’re visibly dirty or smelly. Sponge or dust off little messes and air out if it doesn’t really need a wash.
2. Do full loads at coolest temperature to get clothes clean when washing is necessary. This helps preserve fabric and colors.
3. Line dry. Dryers and heat break down fabric faster and increase shedding.
4. Choose natural fibers. Cotton, wool, linen, hemp, silk and lyocell are natural biodegradable fabric fibers.
5. Can’t part with the fleece pullover or nylon running tights? Try a guppybag or coraball to help capture the microfibers.
Graphic: Statista based on research at Plymouth University, UK
Saving water saves energy. Simply running a faucet for five minutes uses about as much energy as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb staying on for 14 hours, according to the EPA.
How can you save both water and energy?
1. Use less water or use it efficiently – shorter showers, full loads of dishes, turn the tap off while brushing teeth or washing dishes, use a hot water kettle or microwave to heat only the water you need.
2. Find and fix leaks in toilets, sinks, sprinkler systems and appliances.
3. Use cold water instead of hot when possible – laundry, washing fruits and vegetables (use the rinsewater for house plants), rinsing cleaning products
4. Install low-flow fixtures and faucet aerators in showers and sinks.
5. Replace worn out and older inefficient appliances with Water Sense and Energy Star labeled products tested and designed to use water and energy more efficiently – toilets, washing machines, and water heaters are big ones.
As falling leaves drift to the ground, please clear them from storm drain grates and put them to better use. Leaves can easily clog storm drains creating preventable flooding and nutrient overload pollution.
There’s several good uses for those fallen leaves:
1. Shred and spread on the lawn for a nutrient boosting mulch.
2. Convert them to compost either in your own pile or put them in a city yardwaste bin and we’ll compost them at the Yardwaste Facility.
3. Use the leaves as mulch in your garden beds to protect the soil and hold moisture. Next spring till them into the soil for extra nutrients.