Urban snowmelt runoff carries diverse pollutants, like gas combustion products, snowmelting agents, and automotive exhaust, which threaten the quality of the receiving waters, like the North Platte River.
Pollutants can affect water quality faster two ways in winter. First, snow collects contaminants and releases them in concentrated form during melts. Second, the partially frozen state of rivers lessen the ability for self-purification.
Keeping walks and driveways clear, using snowmelt “sparingly and caringly”, and driving only when necessary are good winter water quality measures.
As much as 75 percent of water supplies in some western states are derived from snowmelt, according to the United States Geological Service (USGS). The Nebraska Panhandle relies heavily on snowmelt for our water supply – so taking care of our snow means taking care of our water.
These designed stormwater treatment facilities are ideal for any environment. Pocket wetlands filter, clean and store water from multiple sources. Thy act as sponges by holding flood waters and keeping rivers at normal levels.
Over 90% of Rocky Mountain rainwater samples gathered for a United States Geological Survey contained microplastics, plastics less 5 mm or less. While urban samples contained more plastic, samples from remote sites indicate microplastics may be more pervasive.
Some microplastics are released as tiny particles like fibers from synthetic clothing or car tire fragments. Others fibers come from the breakdown of larger plastic items like bags and bottles. The particles migrate and have been found in the remotest parts and people on the planet.
To see the report: https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2019/1048/ofr20191048.pdf…
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
Vegetated swales improve water quality through two processes. The vegetation removes microbial matter. Secondly, the infiltration aspect allows for cleaner water to recharge the water table.
It takes just as much effort to cut the grass and shoot it into your yard as it does to shoot it into the street. The difference is that it’s a GOOD THING to put it in your yard and a BAD THING to put it in the street. People notice these things.
Need to keep the kids occupied while they’re home for break?
Try some of these water conservation games rounded up by Water, Use it Wisely.