Waterwise: Only Rain in the Drain

Graphic: EPA

Unlike the sanitary sewer, water entering storm drains goes directly to the North Platte River without cleaning or treatment.

Any substances caught in stormwater flow contributes to the contamination and degradation of the river. That’s why ONLY rain runoff or snowmelt is allowed to in the gutter.

Stormwater Awareness Wednesday!

For trash to get from Kearney, NE to the Gulf of Mexico it must first travel nearly 2,000 miles. However, there are many opportunities for it to get caught up in shoreline of the rivers on the way there. Either way, it’s not good for the environment.

What is “Runoff”?

So- what is runoff?

Runoff is any stormwater that can’t infiltrate the soil. This water & snowmelt from our roofs, streets, and pavement creates a flowing river. The river picks up anything it can carry as it flows: yard chemicals, vehicle chemicals, pet waste, trash, soil and debris. The runoff river carries these things into our local streams and lakes before flowing out to the Platte River and beyond. Check out the the Center for Watershed Protection for more information.

Waterwise Wednesday: No Salt, Please

big salt in the plate isolated over white

Just one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water creates a concentration toxic to some aquatic life and increases the corrosivness of water.

Road salts and most deicers contain chloride. When the snow and ice melt, the salty runoff flows down the storm drains to the North Platte River. Chloride is virtually impossible to remove from a waterbody.

Avoid chloride pollution with these tips:
– Shovel early and often to prevent snow compaction and ice formation.

– Scrape ice with an ice scraper or ice chisel.

– Salt or de-ice as a last resort. Salt or de-ice ONLY if pavement temperature is warm enough for application to be effective. Otherwise, lightly sprinkle sand for traction.

– Sweep residue after the melt to prevent residual salt, de-icer, or sand from washing into storm drains.

Photo © Ivan Kopylov

Waterwise Wednesday: Gutter check

Photo © creativecommonsimages

Continued melting means flowing snow melt and runoff. Check street gutters and storm drains near your home to make sure they’re clear of debris and functioning properly.

Clogged storm drains can cause neighborhood flooding, icy back up and nutrient overload as debris decays in the drains.Removing leaves, one of the largest urban sources of phosphorus pollution, from street gutters and drains can reduce the amount of phosphorus in urban runoff by 80% (USGS 2016).

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Harvesting

Capture and reuse rain runoff to supplement regular watering and reduce demand on the public water system with these ideas.

1. Gently mound dirt along a plant’s dripline to hold and infiltrate runoff.

2. Re-use household wastewater from dehumidifiers or air conditioning condensers for irrigation.

3. Install a rain barrel or cistern. Rain barrels can store the water until the weather turns dry and is needed.

4. Plant a rain garden – the basin will hold runoff while providing the yard with color and pollinator habitat.

Photo via gilintx via Flickr CC

Waterwise Wednesday: The Ultimate Water Filter

Earth’s water cycle constantly refreshes our water supply as it travels through (the basic) phases of precipitation, evaporation, and condensation. We depend on the water cycle to bring us fresh, clean water.

Our water can only be as clean as it’s filters. Damage of soil, air, or ground surfaces also damages the filtration or renewal of water.

Greenhouse gases affects the amount, distribution, timing, and quality of available water which affects our activities like recreation (fishing, hunting, water recreation), farming, manufacturing.

Contaminants left on the surface or in the soil contaminate groundwater as it soaks through the soil, requiring additional filtration for humans to drink.

Every person can help prevent pollution, which helps keep the water cycle flowing smoothly and our water clean.

Image: NASA