Waterwise Wednesday: Fall Water Check

City of Scottsbluff, Nebraska- Government>Publishing Tools

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Use this week’s warmer weather for a Fall water check.

1. Find and fix leaks in sprinkler systems, broken heads and exterior walls (look for water damage to outer walls). Tiny openings may have allowed below freezing temperatures to freeze a pipe last week.

2. Insulate water pipes in unheated areas by wrapping with heat-tape and insulation tubes. This will allow hot water to reach your taps faster and save energy on water heating.

3. Locate your property shut-off valve. The faster you can turn off the water during a major leak, the less property damage and less water wasted.

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Waterwise Wednesday: Gutter check

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Continued melting means flowing snow melt and runoff. Check street gutters and storm drains near your home to make sure they’re clear of debris and functioning properly.

Clogged storm drains can cause neighborhood flooding, icy back up and nutrient overload as debris decays in the drains.Removing leaves, one of the largest urban sources of phosphorus pollution, from street gutters and drains can reduce the amount of phosphorus in urban runoff by 80% (USGS 2016).

Waterwise Wednesday: Clean Gutters, Clean Water

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Annually, more than 50% of phosphorus in our surface waters comes from leaves in the street according to a 2016 study by the United States Geological Survey, making leaves one of the largest sources of urban phosphorus pollution.

As rain falls and flows through leaves, phosphorus leaches out much like a tea bag in water. This “leaf tea” flows through our storm sewer system to the North Platte River.

Too much phosphorus causes large and potentially dangerous algae blooms that can block sunlight for aquatic plants, clog the gills of fish, reduce levels of dissolved oxygen, and produce toxins that are harmful if ingested. It only takes one pound of phosphorus to produce 500 pounds of algae (Vallentyne 1974).

Removing leaves from the street before it rains can reduce the amount of phosphorus in urban stormwater by 80% compared to no leaf removal (USGS 2016).

Protect your waters, by sweeping leaves back onto the lawn or garden as mulch, composting them, or putting them into the City’s yardwaste container.

Waterwise Wednesday: Freeze Prep

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Time to put away the watering tools, the season’s first hard freeze is predicted for late this week.

– Winterize sprinkler systems by expelling all the water from the irrigation system and equipment, then blow out with pressurized air.

– Empty any remaining water and clean any residue from rain barrels or other water capture devices.

– Disconnect hoses from outdoor spigots and store them inside. Shut off water to outdoor spigots if possible.

– Clear gutters of leaves and debris to avoid trapping rain and snow melt that may freeze and pull the gutters away from the house.


Waterwise Wednesday: Fall Water Tips

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1. Change the Timer. Cooler weather means lawns require less water.

2. Do a thorough sprinkler system check and make necessary repairs. A line puncture 1/32nd of an inch in diameter wastes up to 6,300 gallons of water per month, which is higher than both Scottsbluff and Gering’s monthly minimum water use rate. (Rates increase for water use above 5,000 gallons per month in both cities.)

3. Plan(t) Ahead. Fall is a great time to introduce native perennials and grasses to your landscaping. They establish root systems during the fall and, once mature, will use less water and chemicals than traditional landscape plants.

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.


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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: 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.

Waterwise Wednesday: National Rivers Month

North Platte River at Scottsbluff July 2019 by L. Sato

We celebrate U.S. rivers and their benefits throughout June.
– Like the Missouri River, the country’s longest at 2,500 miles
– the Mississippi River, the widest, 11 miles across at one point in Minnesota.
– and Nebraska’s 79,056 miles of river

One out of every three people gets their drinking water from a river or stream in the United States. And nationally we spend about $97 billion annually on river-related recreation and tourism.

Drinking water and recreation are two reasons to protect water quality by picking up after your pet, using fertilizers sparingly, and properly disposing of trash.