Waterwise Wednesday: Managing Stormwater Runoff

While it’s unusual to get the amount of rain we had two weeks ago, it does remind us to take some flood precautions.

1. Basement windows or doors are common storm water entry points and should be sealed against leaks. Clear plastic covers or window wells that extend above ground level can help. Ideally, window and door sills should at least a foot above ground level.

2. Slope the yard away from the foundation to prevent water from pooling near the house and leaking into the basement. Create a rain garden or low basin landscaped with shrubs and flowers to encourage water to soak into the ground.

3. Eliminate paved surfaces where possible and consider alternatives that allow water to soak into the ground. Consider porous concrete or porous pavers for driveways. Gravel or woodchips for walking paths.

4. Aim downspouts toward the lawn and away from the foundation and paved surfaces. Consider using cisterns or rain barrels to catch rainwater for watering lawns and gardens in dry weather.

Photo: Creative Commons

Waterwise Wednesday: Only Rain in the Drain, Please

Stormwater is not treated before it flows into the North Platte River, so contaminants that enter the storm sewer system can also contaminate the river.

According to regulation, anything other than rain or snowmelt in the storm sewer is an illicit discharge. However, clean water discharges to the gutter – like pumped groundwater, air conditioning condensation, or irrigation water/lawn watering – are typically excused.

If you see or find evidence of substances other than rain or snowmelt in the gutter or near a storm drain please call the stormwater department 630-8011. If the spill is over 25 gallons or you know the substance is hazardous, please call 911.

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: 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: Reading Coffee Rings

The coffee ring could be a new test for drinking water quality. Tap water leaves distinct patterns and whorls its dried residue, like a coffee ring. The markers indicate water hardness and alkalinity, as well as the presence of dissolved solids and metals.

Researchers at Michigan State University hope the ‘Coffee – Ring Effect’ will provide an inexpensive and accessible way for people to identify traits in their drinking water.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Yuto Ooi et al. CC- Modified from http://www.tandfonline.com/…/…/10.1080/14686996.2017.1314776

Waterwise Wednesday: It’s the Rules

For many people, taking care of the environment is common sense. It’s also required by law.

Scottsbluff operates under the National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) General Permit. The permit

encompasses six general areas:
– Public Education and Outreach
– Public Involvement
– Illicit Discharge, Detection and Elimination
– Construction Stormwater
– Post-construction Stormwater
– Good Housekeeping/Pollution Prevention for Municipalities

The city’s stormwater surcharge not only pays for MS4 infrastructure but also the programming that educates residents and become active in pollution prevention and preserving water quality.

Photo: Scottsbluff outfall SO-164 in June.

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: Celebrate Arbor Day, Plant a Tree

Nebraska is home of Arbor Day, which we celebrate this Friday.  See just how much work trees do!