Waterwise Wednesday: Beware of the Toxic Algae

Blue-green algae can house cyanobacteria that causes illness ranging from mild rash to death in both humans and animals. Blue-green algae forms a scum like pea soup or paint on the surface of the water during the summer and fall. While most blue-algae is harmless, the cyanobacteria is not.

Nebraska monitors 52 public beaches May 1 to September 30 each year, including Lake Minatare, and posts current warnings on the webpage below. Cyanobacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye, so it’s recommended to avoid contact with blue-green algae blooms and to prevent pets from drinking or swimming near them.

For more information on toxic blue-green algae please see:

NDEQ Toxic Algae Factsheet: http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/ENV042607

EPA: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-…/health-and-ecological-effects

DEQ.NE.GOV

Waterwise Wednesday: The Heat is On

 

It’s mid-summer, Panhandle temperatures rise and both the landscape and drought map begin to turn yellow and gold. According to the Drought Monitor, Scotts Bluff County is now experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

The water we use now greatly affects the supply we have in the future – especially if drought conditions spread and continue. Scottsbluff’s water system relies on groundwater pumped through wells, instead of surface water, which replenishes very slowly. Dry or drought conditions cause less regeneration of the ground water supply. Please use water wisely and conservatively.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/…/current/current_high_plains…

Waterwise Wednesday: Feeding the Blue-Green Algae Monster

 

Image may contain: ocean, water, outdoor and nature

“..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.

Waterwise Wednesday: The Water’s On

It’s nearly July and the gardens are green and full of early summer blossoms – using just rainwater.

Late last week the City of Scottsbluff finally turned the water on the downtown gardens, about three months after lawn watering began around the city. Native and well adapted plants use much less water than traditional turf once established.  They’re also drought hardy, provide needed habitat for pollinators and create a distinct sense of place with a plant palate tailored for the Nebraska Panhandle.

Waterwise Wednesday: Too Wet

Many lawns are over-watered leading to root rot, shallow-rooted plants and the spread of fungal growth on the grass. Horticulturists agree that lawns should get no more than 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall. An empty can placed on your lawn can be used to measure accumulation and moisture sensors attached to automated systems can help prevent over watering.

Waterwise Wednesday: What a drip!

Drip and emitter systems conserve water by regulating volume, velocity, and direction of water flow. Plants can be targeted with a slow steady specific quantity of water using drip tubes or emitters. This prevents over watering and watering where not needed. And the systems are discreet, designed to function effectively while lying under a layer of mulch.

EARTH DAY

EARTH DAY

Earth Day is April 22 (EVERY YEAR). It may only be one day a year, but implementing simple conservation practices year-round takes very little extra effort and time. The City of Kearney’s Recycling Center is located at 3007 E. 39th St. and is open 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. There are multiple drop-off locations around Kearney:

1919 15th Ave

South Side of Herbergers (Hilltop Mall)

University Heights on the Northwest corner of 17th Ave/35th St.

CLICK FOR MAP OF DROP OFF SITES           South Railroad St./Ave M

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.

Waterwise Wednesday: The Value of a Tree

If one medium sized Austrian Pine in Frank Park works this hard for our community, imagine the value of all trees in our city:
– Overall monetary Benefit $78
– Runoff Prevention in gallons (1,413)
– Storm water Monetary Benefit $38
– Property value total $11
– Energy saved (KWh) 116
– Natural gas savings $14
– Heat Prevention 14 Therms
– Energy Savings $9
– Pollutants removed 1.59 lbs.
– Air Quality Monetary Benefit $4.53
– Carbon stored 270 lbs.
– Carbon sequestered 82 lbs.
– Carbon avoided 195 lbs.
– Carbon Monetary Benefit $2.03

 

Thanks to Amanda Shepperd at the North Platte NRD for sharing this information about our city’s trees.

Waterwise Wednesday: Seeing Salty Sidewalks

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.