Waterwise Wednesday: Turn Your Home into a Stormwater Pollution Solution!

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.

is a first national snapshot of NPS activities underway across the United States and the people who are making it happen
EPA.GOV

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.

 

 

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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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.

 

 

Wildflower Week

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
  • 5:00 -7:00 PM Charlie Fenster Memorial Tree Planting –  East end of Northfield Arboretum   Postponed until Fall (as of 5/20/2016)

Friday, June 3rd

  • 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Downtown Arboretum Tour, Public Invited.  Meet at Lot 3, Across from West Nebraska Arts Center
  • 11:00 – Noon @ Godfathers The Garden Coffee Break – with Bob Henrickson and Justin Evertson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum
    • Please arrive a few minutes early to get your buffet meal and proceed to the meeting room
    • 30 minute NSA presentation
    • 30 minute tour of Well House
  • Aulick’s TLC
    • 3:00-4:00 pm –Aulick’s TLC Great Plants for the Great Plains Planting Demonstration – a discussion of plant choices and placement to help add western beauty to the home landscape. Outdoor activity.
    • 4:00-5:00 pm:  Landscape and Garden Plants for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects: Walk the greenhouse to learn how different plants attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
  • 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM  Wildcat Wildflower Nature Hike with possible Shooting Range Plant Demo

Saturday, June 4th

  • 9:00 AM – Noon Chadron State College planting project, 1000 Main Street. Contact:  Lucinda Mays at lmays@csc.edu
  • 1-2pm campus tour, 1000 Main Street. lmays@csc.edu

 

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.