Waterwise Wednesday: Five Things You Should Never Put Down a Drain

Clogs from Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) are easily preventable:

  • Don’t pour FOG down the drain
  • Pour cooled fats, oils and grease into a container and put the container in the trash. If you don’t have a container, place tin foil into a coffee cup or similar, add FOG, allow to cool and dispose.
  • Before washing, use a paper napkin or paper towel to wipe FOG from dishes and dispose of it in the trash
  • Use sink strainers to catch food waste
  • Put food scraps in the trash, not through the garbage disposal.

This USA Today video from MSN.com shows a few other substances that should also be kept out of the drain: 5 Things You Should Never Put Down a Drain

 

Waterwise Wednesday: A Tale of Two Sewers

North Platte River, September 2016 by L. Sato

Most cities have two sewer systems: a sanitary sewer and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). The sanitary sewer takes dirty water from our home to the wastewater treatment plant where it is cleaned and released to the North Platte River. The MS4 takes rain and snowmelt straight to the river. That’s why we ask residents to help guard storm drains and the MS4 from chemicals, litter, yard waste or pet waste. When substances other than rain or snow travel in the MS4 they directly pollute the North Platte River, degrading water quality not just for us, but all the way across the state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Waterwise Wednesday: Snow Ordinance

Scooping sidewalks not only provides some fresh air and exercise, it’s also our responsibility. City ordinance requires sidewalks to be cleared by noon the day after snowfall ends (Municipal Code 20-6-20). Preferably, scoop snow onto a lawn or other safe area, not into the street or alley (Municipal Code 20-6-24).

Waterwise Wednesday: Scoop Snow onto Your Lawn

It promotes several green practices:
1. The lawn will appreciate the extra moisture as the snow melts
2. It promotes infiltration and groundwater recharge
3. If we get a fast melt the runoff won’t overpower the storm sewer
4. Preventing runoff keeps pollutants from getting to the river
5. Gutters flow more effectively

Waterwise Wednesday: Best Choices for De-icing

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.

 

 

Construction Bulletin April 2016

Comments Wanted on New Construction Storm Water Permit 

On Friday, March 25  the draft for the new Construction Storm Water (CSW) Permit was sent to EPA to start the 90 day review period, following which will be the formal public notice period.  Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is requesting initial comments and feedback before the permit goes out for public notice. Any responses are appreciated before Monday, May 16th.  download

A summary of changes is inlcuded here:  NDEQ CSW General Permit_Fact Sheet

The permit draft may be reviewed here:  NDEQ CSW_General Permit

  Policy changes to the permit include:

  1. All forms must be submitted electronically on the NDEQ website. Paper forms for NOIs, CSW-Transfers, and NOTs  are no longer accepted.
  2. Oil and gas field activities or operations will now require a permit.
  3. Coverage of existing permits has been extended from 90 to 180 days before reapplication is needed under the proposed general permit.
  4.  Permit numbers have been changed to correspond with anticipated issue year.

Responses can be sent to either  Emma Trewhitt, NPDES Permits and Compliance Unit or the permit writer, Patrick Ducey.   Emma can be contacted at Emma.Trewhitt@nebraska.gov or 402-471-8330. Patrick can be reached at patrick.ducey@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2188.

The Garden Coffeebreak 2016

· Mapping Out the Garden with Anita Gall , Anita’s Greenscaping*

             Date: March 18, 2016                                                        Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

            Location: Café de Paris, 15 West 16th Street               Phone:  308-633-2529

Menu – Cafe de Paris 2016

                    Garden:   Lots 1  & 10,  Avenue A between 16th and 17th Streets

 

· Arbor Day with Amy Seiler, Nebraska Forest Service*

               Date:  April 15,  2016                                                               Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

Location: Cappuccino & Company, 1703 Broadway           Phone:  308-635-9997

Menu – Cappuccino & Company 2016

Garden: Lots 8 & 16, Avenue A and 17th Street

 

·  Phytoremediation with Leann Sato, Scottsbluff Stormwater Program Specialist* 

               Date:  May 20,  2016                                                                  Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

Location: The Emporium                                                            Phone: 632-6222

Menu – The Emporium

Garden: Lot 3, 18th Street & 1st Avenue and Lot 4, 17th Street & 1st Avenue

 

· Great Plants Showcase with Bob Henrickson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

               Date:  June 3,  2016                                                                        Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

Location: Godfather’s Pizza, 2207 Broadway,                          Phone: 308-632-3644

Garden: Wellhouse #3,  Broadway and 23rd Street

 

· Beneficial Insect Environments with Jeff Bradshaw, UNL Extension*

Date:  July 29 , 2016                                                                      Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

Location: Cappuccino & Company, 1703 Broadway              Phone:  308-635-9997

Garden: Midwest, PSB,  East Overland Entryway (Diverse flowers – new and established)

 

· Watering a Low-Water Use  Landscape  with Jim Schild, Associate Director, UNL Extension 

Date: August 19, 2016                                                                    Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

Location: The Shed, 18 East 16th Street                                    Phone:  635-6555

Garden: Library Bioswale, 1908 3rd Avenue

 

· Landscaping LID Style with Al Herbel, LEED AP and Lois Herbel,  Nebraska Department of Education

               Date: September 16, 2016                                                               Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

Location:  Runza, 1823 Broadway                                                Phone: 631-0397

Garden: Library Bioswale, 1809 3rd Avenue

  · Gardens Through the Lens with Gary Stone, UNL Extension*

               Date: October 21, 2016                                                                   Time:  11:00 AM—Noon

               Location:  Sam & Louie’s, 1522 Broadway                                Phone: 308-633-2345

Garden:  Library Bioswale,  via  West Nebraska Art Center , Lot 12

Continue reading The Garden Coffeebreak 2016

Greening Up the Urban Environment- Part III

The following is Part III of a three part series focusing on the City of Scottsbluff’s 319 grant projects.  These projects are designed to reduce impervious cover in parking lots, filtering and infiltrating stormwater runoff.  This article will go over project successes.  For an overview of the projects, see Part I.  For project challenges and lessons learned, see Part II.

In the last article, we went over the challenges of landscaping a hot, harsh urban environment.  Now that we have gone over the difficulties of these projects, we are going to outline some of the practices we used that worked well.  The following is a list of some of the techniques that were effective and that we will be using in the future:

A mixture of native and well-adapted plants do well with minimal inputs of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
A mixture of native and well-adapted plants do well with minimal inputs of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
  • Plant Selection- Thanks to the help of the Nebraska Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, we were able to use a very carefully chosen plant list.  This plant list included several tried and true plants for our area, such as catmint, yarrow, jupiter’s beard, butterfly milkweed, and asters, as well as some lesser-known selections, such as thelosperma and plumbago.  We will be monitoring these landscapes to see which of these plants do well over time, helping to expand our palette of plants we know to be successful in this area.
Native sedges are a great choice for areas with poor soil drainage
Native sedges are a great choice for areas with poor soil drainage
  • Sedges- While this also refers to plant selection, the unique functionality of our sedges merits them their own bullet point.  Because the projects are designed to capture stormwater, and because the soils were in such poor condition when we started our projects, we had several areas that were poorly drained.  These were the areas where we planted sedges, some of them which were literally planted in standing water.  These sedges have thrived, looking very attractive while serving the very important function of cleaning and filtering stormwater before it reaches the storm drain or is infiltrated into the ground.  There are very few plants that do well when exposed to extended periods of standing water; we have had great success with using sedges in these difficult areas.
The existing storm grate before we installed the landscaping would have been easily plugged by floating mulch
The existing storm grate before we installed the landscaping would have been easily plugged by floating mulch
  • Beehive Storm Grate- The previous storm drain was a typical rectangle grate that was flush with the ground.  We talked about some of the challenges of mulch in our previous article; one of the other challenges is that it can plug a storm drain.  The storm drain we chose for the overflow of our retention area, shown below, is designed to keep from plugging when the water gets deeper and mulch starts floating.  After experiencing a few strong thunderstorms, it appears that this design has been very effective at keeping the storm drain open to receive overflowing stormwater runoff.
The beehive storm grate we installed is great for carrying stormwater overflow without plugging
The beehive storm grate we installed is great for carrying stormwater overflow without plugging
  • Strategic Placement of Hardscape- We allowed several areas throughout the landscape for people to pass through as they were leaving their vehicles.  This seems to have cut down on the amount of foot traffic we receive in the landscape itself.  Additionally, in an area that was constantly being driven over, we strategically placed a boulder.  This not only has aesthetic value, it has completely stopped vehicles from driving over this part of the landscape.
Strategically placed hardscape helps keep traffic out of landscape beds
Strategically placed hardscape helps keep traffic out of landscape beds

At this time, those are the most noticeable successes that we have seen.  We are hoping that over time, using large landscape beds with adequate soil rooting volume for trees will help the trees to be more successful long-term; however, it will be several years before we know for sure if it is a success.  We are also hoping to turn off the drip irrigation systems in the future.  During their first summer, though, we will be leaving the irrigation on to help the plants establish their root systems.  We may have to continue irrigating during extended dry periods.  We will also be observing our plants over time to see how they do- watch for future articles outlining specific plant selections that have done well.  All in all, perhaps the greatest success has been being able to remove over 9,500 square feet of concrete from our parking lots and replace it with a beautiful, functional landscape that will have great environmental benefits for years to come.

downtown landscaping

Greening Up the Urban Environment- Part II

The following is Part II of a three part series focusing on the City of Scottsbluff’s 319 grant projects.  These projects are designed to reduce impervious cover in parking lots, filtering and infiltrating stormwater runoff.  This article will go over challenges and lessons learned from the projects.  For an overview of the projects, see Part I.

street trees, urban landscaping, parking lot landscaping, downtown landscaping
This landscape is designed to reduce stormwater runoff and eventually help cool the parking lot, combating the heat island effect and moderating the temperature of stormwater runoff

In our last article, we went over the process of removing concrete and installing landscaping to create green areas throughout our downtown parking lots.  There are several factors that, when combined, make it extremely difficult for a landscape to be successful in an urban environment. The following is a list of those challenges, along with a few of the lessons that we have learned so far.  Over time, we will be continuing to observe and experiment with these landscapes to determine the best ways to make them successful. Continue reading Greening Up the Urban Environment- Part II