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.

Waterwise Wednesday: Cold Water Tips for a Hot Day

1. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator. Running water through the tap until it’s the right temperature can waste several gallons of potable water.
2. Leftover ice cubes from your drink? Give them to a houseplant, it provides a nice slow watering.
3. When the kids want to run in the sprinkler, set the sprinkler where the lawn needs it most.

Waterwise Wednesday: The Water’s On

It’s nearly July and the gardens are green and full of early summer blossoms – using just rainwater.

Late last week the City of Scottsbluff finally turned the water on the downtown gardens, about three months after lawn watering began around the city. Native and well adapted plants use much less water than traditional turf once established.  They’re also drought hardy, provide needed habitat for pollinators and create a distinct sense of place with a plant palate tailored for the Nebraska Panhandle.

Waterwise Wednesday: Controlling Cross Connection Contamination

Cross-connections are actual or potential connections between safe drinking water (potable) supply and a source of contamination or pollution. The submerged hoses in the photos  illustrate a direct cross connection between non-potable water and your drinking water.

A loss of pressure like a water main break or system repair in the public water  system or running too many in-house water sources at once (think shower, washer, dishwasher, and sprinkler system all at the same time) can cause backsiphongage. This loss of pressure creates a siphon effect in the plumbing system which can draw water out of a sink, bucket, or pool and back into your water or public water system.

Cross-connections must be properly protected or eliminated to protect the city’s drinking water supply from backsiphonage or backflow. In this case, either remove the hoses from the pool or barrel or install a hose connection vacuum breaker on the faucet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterwise Wednesday: Too Wet

Many lawns are over-watered leading to root rot, shallow-rooted plants and the spread of fungal growth on the grass. Horticulturists agree that lawns should get no more than 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall. An empty can placed on your lawn can be used to measure accumulation and moisture sensors attached to automated systems can help prevent over watering.

Waterwise Wednesday: What a drip!

Drip and emitter systems conserve water by regulating volume, velocity, and direction of water flow. Plants can be targeted with a slow steady specific quantity of water using drip tubes or emitters. This prevents over watering and watering where not needed. And the systems are discreet, designed to function effectively while lying under a layer of mulch.

Western Nebraska Wildflower Week 2017

Wildflowers endure through hard times, lending their beauty and brightness even to landscapes rarely seen by human eyes. Their flowers and seeds feed birds, butterflies and other pollinators and wildlife; their roots loosen and improve soil; they thrive without care in places other plants could never survive; and they lend fragrance and beauty to wild places all across the state, making us want to take a closer look at places we would otherwise ignore.

Updates on events can be found at http://plantnebraska.org/wildflower .

Wildflower Week Events in Western Nebraska

June 8 in Scottsbluff. “It’s a Green Thing,” 4-9pm Parking Lot Party at the Guadalupe Center, 1200 E 9th St. Plant Sale and activity booths 4-9pm include: 4:30-5:30pm planting demonstration and rain garden/pollinator project overview; goldenrod and pollinator presentations at 6 and 7pm. 308-630-8011, stormwater@scottsbluff.org

June 9 in Gering. “High Plains Prairie Garden Planting Project” 9-10am at Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail.  Downtown Plaza Tour 11-noon meeting at 18th St. Plaza. 308-633-1173, aseiler2@unl.edu

June 9 near Crawford. Fort Robinson Wildflower Hike 5-7pm; meet at Crawford Community Building to carpool. 402-580-1293; jevertson1@unl.edu.

June 10 at Chadron State College. Landscape Tour and Pollinator Garden Planting 9-noon. Meet in parking lot along 10th St. frontage near High Rise Dorm. 308-432-6401, lmays@csc.edu

June 10 near Gering. “Wildflower Walk” 9-11am at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center, 210615 Hwy 71. Walk will focus on wildflowers and ways to identify them. Bring water and hiking shoes for the 1-mile hike. FREE with 2017 Nebraska State Park Permit. ngpc.wildcat.hills@nebraska.gov, 308-436-3777, http://outdoornebraska.gov/wildcathillsnaturecenter/

June 11 near Harrison. “Wildflowers 101” talk and walk with a ranger through lowlands, prairie and rocky uplands to see a variety of wildflowers starting at 2pm at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center, 301 River Rd. Trails are open dawn to dusk. agfo_ranger_activities@nps.gov, 308-668-2211, https://www.nps.gov/agfo/planyourvisit/calendar.htm

 

Waterwise Wednesday: Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Weekend officially launches summer fun season which often includes water games and activities. The water doesn’t have to go waste. Play water games on the lawn or in the pool so that the aftermath simply waters the lawn fills or trickles back to the pool.