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: 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

Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Resolutions

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

1. KNOW WHERE YOUR WATER IS WASTED
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.

2. UPGRADE YOUR APPLIANCES & FIXTURES
Choose a WaterSense labeled high-efficiency clothes washers, toilets, and showerheads to save more than 20% from conventional appliances.

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

4. SHORTEN YOUR SHOWERS
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.

5. SWEEP, DON’T HOSE
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.

6. WATER THE GREEN, NOT THE GUTTER
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.

7. PLANT A NATIVE GARDEN
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.

8. DON’T WASTE THE RAIN
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.

9. DON’T WATER WHEN IT RAINS
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.

10. LOCATE THE LEAKS
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: Cold Weather, Hot Water

We tend to compensate for cold temperatures with hotter showers and running water longer to make sure the water is definitely warm before sticking our hands under the tap.

Collect the water that runs while waiting for the warmer water for plants, pets, cooking, or drinking. Chances are, you’ll be saving two to eight gallons – plenty to take care of several tasks that don’t require hot water.

Photo: nikkytok

Waterwise Wednesday: Toothbrush Challenge

Can you brush your teeth, including rinsing your mouth and toothbrush, with a 1/4 cup of water?

Yes, it is possible!

Americans waste up to eight gallons of water each tooth-brushing session. Simply turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save over 100 gallons per month.

Waterwise Wednesday: Permeable Pavement

Permeable pavement allows water to pass through the surface into the ground generating more groundwater recharge, faster melting of ice and snow, and decreasing the amount of water runoff from a property. Porous concrete, porous asphalt, or interlocking pavers are also good for trees whose roots can access the air and water that flow through the pavers.

Photos: (Top) Demonstration of porous concrete. (Bottom) Water runoff comparison of permeable asphalt and standard concrete.

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.

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 Scottsbluff Drain, Then and Now

Scottsbluff circa 1940. Photo courtesy of Platte Valley Museum

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.

 

Map courtesy of MC Schaff & Associates

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