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!
Please click the links below for more information on how individual business can help prevent stormwater runoff pollution!!
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.
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
“..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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.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, email@example.com
June 9 near Crawford. Fort Robinson Wildflower Hike 5-7pm; meet at Crawford Community Building to carpool. 402-580-1293; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, email@example.com
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. firstname.lastname@example.org, 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. email@example.com, 308-668-2211, https://www.nps.gov/agfo/planyourvisit/calendar.htm
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.
If there is a layer of salt remaining on the driveway or sidewalk after the ice melts, too much salt got sprinkled. If you find excess sand or salt, sweep it up and throw it away so that it is not washed into the storm sewer.
One teaspoon of salt is enough to contaminate five gallons of water forever. Salts, like the de-icers we use in winter, stay in water without settling out contaminating and damaging the North Platte River and freshwater lakes where we fish.
1. Scoop snow onto the lawn before it melts and creates an ice layer. It’s the most environmentally friendly for plants, animals, and concrete. Plus there’s the benefit of exercise.
2. No-salt de-icer. If an ice layer does form, scoop the snow to the yard, then employ a no salt deicer to melt the ice layer for easier removal. Look for labels containing magnesium acetate (CMA) which is less harmful to animals and plants. Follow directions on the package for use, CMA is often blended with other ingredients for effectiveness that may become harmful to plants or animals in larger quantities.
3. Salt as a last resort. Salt is highly corrosive, can irritate a pet’s paws or children’s skin, burn the plants it contacts, and leach into the soil. Use salt “Sparingly and Caringly” about .08 ounce, just under a ½ teaspoon, per square foot where there’s high pedestrian traffic. Salts are often listed as chlorides -sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, or calcium chloride – on deicer packaging.
The City of Scottsbluff recently named Leann Sato as Stormwater Program Specialist. Leann replaces Annie Folck, who was promoted to City Planner. Leann is anxious to continue Scottsbluff’s Stormwater public education and outreach programs with her background in mass communication, training and development, and teaching. She looks forward to working with the community and agencies to employ good Stormwater practices. If you have any stormwater related projects with which you would like assistance, please feel free to contact Leann at (308) 630-8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.