Waterwise Wednesday: What’s Hidden in the Melting Snow

Photo by L. Sato
Avenue B Outfall                  Photo Credit:  L. Sato

As warmer weather melts the snow piles around town, the runoff makes its way to the city’s outfalls where the contaminants can be seen. The swirled sheen on the water’s surface is oil that was trapped in the snow. Snow traps oils, salts and sediment that are released into the runoff as the snow melts. Snowmelt runoff is one of largest sources of urban water pollution.

 

 

Construction Stormwater Management

Construction Stormwater Management

Minimum Control Measure (MCM) #4 of the Stormwater Management Plan

The purpose of this MCM is to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff from construction activities that result in land disturbance. An Erosion and Sediment Control program is being followed and an ordinance has been enacted within the City Code. Design standards meeting the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit requirements are available on the City website. There are Erosion and Sediment Control best management practices (BMPs) for a construction site no matter what the size. 

Waterwise Wednesday: The Scottsbluff Drain, Then and Now

Scottsbluff circa 1940. Photo courtesy of Platte Valley Museum

Built in 1918, the Scottsbluff Drain originally intercepted groundwater from farm land northwest of the city and redirected it around the budding city to the North Platte River. The photo from the North Platte Valley Museum archives shows Scottsbluff around 1940. The large building is Scottsbluff High School, now Bluffs Middle School. Northwest of the school’s track is a smaller building where Webber’s Furniture now sits on the north end of Broadway.

Today the drain carries groundwater, irrigation wastewater, and stormwater runoff from the part of the county and the majority of the north and northeast sections of town, as seen in the map from MC Schaff. While the city has grown, the Drain remains the nearly the same almost 100 years later.

 

Map courtesy of MC Schaff & Associates

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Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Minimum Control Measure (MCM) #3 of the Stormwater Management Plan

The purpose of this MCM is to minimize the effect of illicit discharges and illicit connections within the community. An IDDE program is followed and an ordinance has been enacted within the City Code. Dry weather inspections of storm sewer outfalls are regularly performed. A detailed storm sewer system is maintained to track flow of stormwater and identify affected areas from illicit discharges.  Access Kearney on the City of Kearney’s website allows the public to acknowledge their concerns regarding all forms of stormwater pollution. 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Public Involvement and Participation

Public Involvement and Participation

Minimum Control Measure (MCM) #2 of the Stormwater Management Plan

The purpose of this MCM partly goes along with the first MCM, Public Education and Outreach. The idea is to use the informed public to get involved to the point of participating in activities that benefit the environment in any way imaginable. With this enthusiasm the public will be spreading the idea of stormwater pollution prevention via word of mouth among members of the community and beyond. 

Public Education and Outreach

Public Education and Outreach

Minimum Control Measure (MCM) #1 of the Stormwater Management Plan

The purpose of this MCM is to education the public on the benefits of keeping our receiving waters clean of pollutants. An informed public can make a significant reduction in the amount of stormwater pollutants that enter our storm sewer systems. Multiple media formats are used to convey this information. Social media, websites, radio, television, household awareness surveys and more all play a role in this process. 

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