Waterwise Wednesday: The Safer Choice

Safer Choice labels identify products with safer chemical ingredients, without sacrificing quality or performance. The EPA’s voluntary Safer Choice program reviews product ingredients, product performance, pH, packaging, and VOC content.

Every ingredient must meet strict safety criteria for both human health and the environment, including carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment.

Products pass category-specific performance standards as defined in the Safer Choice Standard. All products must perform comparably to conventional products.

One of six sustainable packaging measures must be implemented for the product.

pH: Labeled products must meet pH standards that minimize the potential for skin and eye irritation or injury.

Safer Choice restricts VOC content to minimize indoor air pollution and associated respiratory concerns.

For more information: https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice

Waterwise Wednesday: Snow Science

Cloudy winter days make the snow melt faster, says a study from the University of Utah. Snow is designed to stay cold in three ways: by deflecting the sun’s heat with it’s bright white color and crystalline structure, the bright white reflecting heat back at night, and sublimation, evaporating from snow to vapor, similar to the way sweat evaporates from our skin to keep us cool.

Cloudy humid days, however prevents snow from deflecting, reflecting and sublimating warming the snow. That is why a few humid days with temperatures hovering around the freezing point create large melt events and even minor flooding.

Do your own experiment by watching snow that remains in shadows even on warm sunny days. Then watch what happens to that same snow during gray days and nights — quickly, though, before it’s all gone.

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Waterwise Wednesday: The Final Countdown

“I cannot stress it enough: all residents must save water and use less than 87 litres (23 gallons) per day.” – Patricia de Lille, Mayor, Capetown, South Africa

Three consecutive years of drought have brought Capetown, South Africa to the end of it’s water supply. All taps serving the city’s 3.74 million residents will be shut off April 21 – “Day Zero” – when the water is gone. Should the taps be turned off, each resident will be allocated 6.5 gallons of drinking water per day shipped from neighboring provinces.

The average U.S. resident uses 100 gallons per day – 4 times the current recommended use for Capetonians. How much more could we conserve?

Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

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Waterwise Wednesday: Leaky Toilet

The bathroom toilet accounts for 25%-30% of daily water use in the U.S. home. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day.

Check for leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank, don’t flush. 
If the color reaches the bowl in 10-15 minutes there’s a leak. It’s likely the toilet flapper is worn and no longer seals.

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Waterwise Wednesday: Winter Watering

Trees and plants may be parched and in need of water due to Winter being very dry, windy and warm here in the Panhandle.

– Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.

– Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night.

– To water trees, apply water to the most critical part of the root zone under the tree canopy and let the soil soak to a depth of 12 inches.

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Resolutions

Here are 10 top ways to save water in the New Year.

Scottsbluff pumps 6.6 million gallons a day in the heat of the summer and 2.8 million gallons a day the coldest month. The majority of the difference is for lawn irrigation. Limit outdoor w

ater waste with drought tolerant turf, xeriscaping, rain gardens and other sustainable landscape options.

Choose a WaterSense labeled high-efficiency clothes washers, toilets, and showerheads to save more than 20% from conventional appliances.

Water at dawn while cool and calm, to reduce evaporation. Water in short bursts, instead of a long soak, for better soil infiltration.

Even a one- or two-minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month, for a family of four. Save up to 200 to 300 gallons per month by using a bucket or to capture what is waste while waiting for the shower or sink water to warm up, and use it on house-plants or in your garden.

Save 150 gallons or more by sweeping instead of hosing driveways and sidewalks. Don’t run the hose while washing your car on the lawn. Instead, use a bucket of water and a quick hose rinse which saves 150 gallons each time and gives the lawn a water boost.

Adjust sprinklers so that water lands on the lawn or garden – and only there. That can save 500 gallons per month. Check for broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Also, ensure that drip system nozzles and emitters are directed toward your plants and not at a sidewalk or driveway.

Native gardens require less maintenance, don’t need chemical fertilizers and attract butterflies and hummingbirds! Panhandle friendly plants can reduce a home’s water consumption by 60 percent.

Capture rain runoff in a rain barrel to water the garden or design a swale to slow, spread, and sink rainwater into the soil. That way you’ll need to irrigate less and can conserve more.

It seems obvious, but don’t water during downpours or in the hours after a storm. Rain or soil moisture sensors can determine if and how long to water. Both devices can stand-alone or added on to existing controllers. They can reduce outdoor water use by up to 70 percent without sacrificing the quality or health of your landscape.

A minor leak can waste 20 gallons a day and a leaky toilet wastes up to 200 gallons of water per day. Don’t let minor water leaks in your home go unfixed. Check for and repair leaks in all toilets, faucets and showerheads.

Photo: Fuzzbones/Dreamstime

Waterwise Wednesday: Let it Drip?!

Yes, it sounds strange, but keeping the water moving through a home’s water system in below-freezing weather greatly reduces the likelihood of freezing and bursting pipes. Turn on a faucet at the opposite end of the system from where it enters the building. Place a bucket under the faucet to catch the drip and use it later for flushing toilets or watering plants.

Waterwise Wednesday: Travel Tips

Water conservation doesn’t have to leave town when you do. Try these water savvy travel tips to encourage conservation wherever you go.

1. Close taps before leaving on holiday – including the automatic ice maker on the fridge. If possible, shut off the supply at the water main to prevent any water wastage.

2. Pack a re-usable water bottle. Empty it before going through airport security, then keep it filled for traveling, touring, the hotel, etc.

3. Keep your showers short and refrain from filling the bath tub.

4. Use the half flush button – many hotels and public areas are switching dual flush toilets. Using about a gallon to flush urine, about 1.6 gallons to flush feces.

5. Don’t let the water run. Turn off the water while soaping up and brushing teeth.

6. Reuse your towels. Hotels encourage their guests to reuse towels during their stay. A typical 300-room hotel can reduce its water usage by 51,840 gallons and detergent usage by 346 gallons yearly with a towel and linen reuse program, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

7. Speak up. If you’re visiting somewhere and notice a leaky toilet or a dripping tap, mention it to your host or hotel reception. We’re all in this together!