Waterwise Wednesday: Levees of Leaves

  Falling leaves signal the official arrival of Autumn. Put leaves to good use as insulating mulch in a garden bed, make them into compost, or shred them across the lawn as a natural fertilizer. Left to lie in gutters, leaves quickly clog storm drains leading to flooding in a Fall storm and nutrient pollution as the leaves degrade in the storm sewer. Pile ’em up and enjoy the benefits of leaves next spring!

Waterwise Wednesday: Toothbrush Challenge

Can you brush your teeth, including rinsing your mouth and toothbrush, with a 1/4 cup of water?

Yes, it is possible!

Americans waste up to eight gallons of water each tooth-brushing session. Simply turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save over 100 gallons per month.

Waterwise Wednesday: Nebraska Water Trivia

1. True or False: Nebraska houses the most miles of river in the U.S.

2. True or False: Nebraska manufactures and uses the most center pivot irrigation systems in the world.

3. True or False: Nebraska contains the most groundwater of the fifty states.

1. True. Four major rivers, and many small rivers, flow nearly 23,000 miles across the state.

2. True. The top four center pivot system manufacturers are based in Nebraska and supply 85% of the global demand. Nebraska manufactures utilizes about 60,000 center pivot systems.

3. True. We sit on the High Plains Aquifer, which reaches eight states, the largest source of groundwater in the U.S.

Waterwise Wednesday: Reading Coffee Rings

The coffee ring could be a new test for drinking water quality. Tap water leaves distinct patterns and whorls its dried residue, like a coffee ring. The markers indicate water hardness and alkalinity, as well as the presence of dissolved solids and metals.

Researchers at Michigan State University hope the ‘Coffee – Ring Effect’ will provide an inexpensive and accessible way for people to identify traits in their drinking water.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Yuto Ooi et al. CC- Modified from http://www.tandfonline.com/…/…/10.1080/14686996.2017.1314776

Waterwise Wednesday: It’s the Rules

For many people, taking care of the environment is common sense. It’s also required by law.

Scottsbluff operates under the National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) General Permit. The permit

encompasses six general areas:
– Public Education and Outreach
– Public Involvement
– Illicit Discharge, Detection and Elimination
– Construction Stormwater
– Post-construction Stormwater
– Good Housekeeping/Pollution Prevention for Municipalities

The city’s stormwater surcharge not only pays for MS4 infrastructure but also the programming that educates residents and become active in pollution prevention and preserving water quality.

Photo: Scottsbluff outfall SO-164 in June.

Waterwise Wednesday: Permeable Pavement

Permeable pavement allows water to pass through the surface into the ground generating more groundwater recharge, faster melting of ice and snow, and decreasing the amount of water runoff from a property. Porous concrete, porous asphalt, or interlocking pavers are also good for trees whose roots can access the air and water that flow through the pavers.

Photos: (Top) Demonstration of porous concrete. (Bottom) Water runoff comparison of permeable asphalt and standard concrete.

Waterwise Wednesday: Bottled from Where?

Bottled waters seem to flow from all sorts of exotic places like arctic glaciers, hidden bubbling springs and the tropical waters of Fiji. The US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) identifies water sources to help consumers determine the source of their bottled water.

  • Artesian water, groundwater, spring water and well water all come from an underground aquifer which may or may not be treated.
  • Well water and artesian water are tapped through a well.
  • Spring water is collected as it flows to the surface or via a borehole.
  • Ground water can be either tapped by well or captured at the surface source.
  • Bottled water may also come from a public water source (municipal water) and may be identified as coming from a community water system.

Waterwise Wednesday: Beware of the Toxic Algae

Blue-green algae can house cyanobacteria that causes illness ranging from mild rash to death in both humans and animals. Blue-green algae forms a scum like pea soup or paint on the surface of the water during the summer and fall. While most blue-algae is harmless, the cyanobacteria is not.

Nebraska monitors 52 public beaches May 1 to September 30 each year, including Lake Minatare, and posts current warnings on the webpage below. Cyanobacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye, so it’s recommended to avoid contact with blue-green algae blooms and to prevent pets from drinking or swimming near them.

For more information on toxic blue-green algae please see:

NDEQ Toxic Algae Factsheet: http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/ENV042607

EPA: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-…/health-and-ecological-effects

DEQ.NE.GOV

Waterwise Wednesday: The Heat is On

 

It’s mid-summer, Panhandle temperatures rise and both the landscape and drought map begin to turn yellow and gold. According to the Drought Monitor, Scotts Bluff County is now experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

The water we use now greatly affects the supply we have in the future – especially if drought conditions spread and continue. Scottsbluff’s water system relies on groundwater pumped through wells, instead of surface water, which replenishes very slowly. Dry or drought conditions cause less regeneration of the ground water supply. Please use water wisely and conservatively.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/…/current/current_high_plains…

Waterwise Wednesday: Feeding the Blue-Green Algae Monster

 

Image may contain: ocean, water, outdoor and nature

“..in the St. Lucie estuary, about half the sea grass, which is a food source for many marine animals, died off during last year’s algae blooms. Among humans who’ve been exposed to the algae, there has been an increase in antibiotic-resistant staph infections. Florida’s governor has declared a state of emergency in four counties,” according to Janice Kaspersen, editor of Stormwater: The Journal for Surface Water Quality Professionals.

Fertilizer in water runoff is boosting the growth of blue-green algae and hurting more than Florida’s $109 billion a year tourist industry. Cyanobacteria flourish with phosphorus and nitrogen, primary ingredients in fertilizers. The fertilizer boosts growth that create large algae blooms during summer and fall that deplete oxygen and diminish sunlight in the water. The bacteria not only affect aquatic life but also cause beach closures for health safety.

Fertilizer is one of the largest pollutants of stormwater runoff in urban areas. Please use fertilizers “sparingly and caringly” – apply according to the directions, when wind is still, and rain is not in the immediate forecast. You’ll be protecting more than just your plants.

Photograph: Toxic blue-green algae bloom in Klamath River in California taken by David McLain for National Geographic.