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: 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: Trees Tame Stormwater

Trees play a critical role in managing our city’s stormwater runoff. Enjoy this interactive poster from the Arbor Day Foundation highlighting the role trees play in urban stormwater management.

https://www.arborday.org/trees/stormwater.cfm

Waterwise Wednesday: Natural Clog Buster

Got a slow moving drain? Skip caustic chemicals and flush the drain with vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar and baking soda can clear out grease and dissolve organic material trapped in your pipes.

Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain. Then sprinkle one cup of baking soda into the drain, quickly followed by a cup of vinegar. Insert the drain cap or a rag to keep the bubbles working in the pipe. Let the mixture sit in the pipes for 15 minutes to an hour Finish with one more flush of boiling water down the pipes.

Waterwise Wednesday: Policy Works

Researchers, led by Estelle Chaussard from the University of Buffalo, link ground water recovery in Santa Clara Valley California to the state’s newly instated water conservation efforts—policies that diverted surface water to refill aquifers

In 2013, interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSARa) measured a 2-centimeter decrease in ground-level elevation, followed by another 3 centimeters in 2014. The research team estimates a groundwater loss of about a tenth of a cubic kilometer caused the ground to shrink or lower.

Ground surfaces began to expand and rise in September 2015, rising nearly 2 centimeters over the next two years and were at pre-study levels by the end of 2016. This reflects the same time surface water diversion policy went into effect.

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Waterwise Wednesday: Levees of Leaves

  Falling leaves signal the official arrival of Autumn. Put leaves to good use as insulating mulch in a garden bed, make them into compost, or shred them across the lawn as a natural fertilizer. Left to lie in gutters, leaves quickly clog storm drains leading to flooding in a Fall storm and nutrient pollution as the leaves degrade in the storm sewer. Pile ’em up and enjoy the benefits of leaves next spring!

Waterwise Wednesday: Feeding the Blue-Green Algae Monster

 

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“..in the St. Lucie estuary, about half the sea grass, which is a food source for many marine animals, died off during last year’s algae blooms. Among humans who’ve been exposed to the algae, there has been an increase in antibiotic-resistant staph infections. Florida’s governor has declared a state of emergency in four counties,” according to Janice Kaspersen, editor of Stormwater: The Journal for Surface Water Quality Professionals.

Fertilizer in water runoff is boosting the growth of blue-green algae and hurting more than Florida’s $109 billion a year tourist industry. Cyanobacteria flourish with phosphorus and nitrogen, primary ingredients in fertilizers. The fertilizer boosts growth that create large algae blooms during summer and fall that deplete oxygen and diminish sunlight in the water. The bacteria not only affect aquatic life but also cause beach closures for health safety.

Fertilizer is one of the largest pollutants of stormwater runoff in urban areas. Please use fertilizers “sparingly and caringly” – apply according to the directions, when wind is still, and rain is not in the immediate forecast. You’ll be protecting more than just your plants.

Photograph: Toxic blue-green algae bloom in Klamath River in California taken by David McLain for National Geographic.

STORMWATER RUNOFF

Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff comes from precipitation events and when snow/ice melts onto impervious surfaces. An inch of rain on an acre of land is equivalent to 27,154 gallons of water with a weight of 113 tons. This water transports many pollutants, including but not limited to sediment, oil, grease, fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste, and litter/trash. Stormwater DOES NOT get treated prior to being flushed into waterways.

Waterwise Wednesday: Spring has Sprung and Lawn Work has Begun!

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.

Fertilizing Tips:
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.