This web site links to an EPA homeowner’s guide to healthy
habits for clean water that provides tips for better vehicle and
garage care, lawn and garden techniques, home improvement, pet
care, and more.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
2016 Wildflower Week is Friday, June 3 – Sunday, June 12
Nebraska Statewide Arboretum serves as coordinator for statewide Wildflower Week activities, bringing together organizations and individuals across the state who recognize the value of wildflowers—not only for their beauty but also for what they imply and symbolize. For more events statewide: http://arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week
Thursday, June 2nd
10:00 AM –Noon Great Plants Planting – 2975 Country Club Road, Gering
1:00-3:00 PM: Legacy of the Plains – Plant ID Presentation
Sandra Reddish, Executive Director for Legacy of the Plains
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.