The first flush is the initial runoff from a storm and tends to carry a higher concentration of pollutants compared to later in the storm. Common contaminants picked up in the first flush include:
– sediment from roofs
– yardwaste, animal waste, fertilizers, pesticides and de-icing compounds from driveways and yards
– brake dust, tire residue, heavy metal and trash from street surfaces
Simple ways to reduce the concentration of pollutants in the first flush include using lawn chemicals as directed, biking or walking more and creating landscapes that promote natural infiltration.
Properly maintained irrigation systems use water efficiently and reduce water waste. Use these tips for more effective watering:1. Clear Your Head(s). Sprinkler heads and nozzles may need to be cleared of debris or replaced if they’re worn out or broken. Look for improved designs in spray heads and nozzles that apply less water more uniformly allowing water to infiltrate instead of simply evaporate or run off. Minimize evaporation, wind, inefficient irrigation methods and systems that create runoff with good systems and good timing.
2. Check the time. Install a fresh set of batteries in the timer and check the programming schedule to water in the cooler, still times of day. Rain or moisture sensors can further reduce over or ineffective watering. According the EPA, ” a home with an automatic irrigation system that isn’t properly programmed or maintained can waste as much as 30,000 gallons of water annually.”
3. Connect well: Check for leaks where heads connect to hoses or pipes. Pooling areas indicate leaks that need immediate repair. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
4. And Remember – have the testable backflow prevention device on the lawn system checked once every five years by a certified plumber. It protects the municipal water supply that serves not only the lawn, but also quenches the thirst of our residents.
Build a rain barrel in spring to collect and save water for the hotter days of summer. Rain barrels collect about 300 gallons of water for every one inch that falls on 500 square feet of roof. That’s 300 gallons less flowing as runoff picking up pollutants and instead promoting beautiful neighborhoods in later summer when it’s drier. Rain barrels are simple to construct with a 55 gallon barrel, a spigot and a few other small supplies.
Amidst the activity, we ask your help in protecting our water quality and MS4 with appropriate fertilizer application. Fertilizer in water causes large algae blooms, hypoxic (dead) zones in water as it decays, and can be toxic to water supply systems. These consequences are easy to prevent with proper application.
1. Apply during calm dry weather to prevent spread into unwanted areas.
2. Apply as directed – excessive lawn feeding contributes to ground water contamination.
3. Sweep fertilizer back on the grass if it falls on the sidewalk or other impervious surface to keep it out of the storm sewer.
4. Consider grass clippings or compost as natural alternatives.
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.
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.