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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.