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!
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.
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.
Heat generated from bacteria causes the compost pile to stay warm and active, no matter which season you’re in. Ideally, new material should be added to the composting system during turning and mixing to keep the pile the most active. Visit www.earth911.com to find more information on different composting methods including hot, cold, sheet, and trench composting. Also, to find out what items are good types of compost click here for lists of acceptable and unacceptable materials.
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Stormwater runoff comes from precipitation events and when snow/ice melts onto impervious surfaces. An inch of rain on an acre of land is equivalent to 27,154 gallons of water with a weight of 113 tons. This water transports many pollutants, including but not limited to sediment, oil, grease, fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste, and litter/trash. Stormwater DOES NOT get treated prior to being flushed into waterways.
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.
Nebraska is home of Arbor Day, which we celebrate this Friday. See just how much work trees do!
Take full advantage of the rain showers this spring by redirecting your downspouts onto your yards. Make sure your downspouts deposit rainwater where it can be put to good use. The amount of rainwater that gets into the street will be greatly reduced and your gardens and yards will benefit greatly from it. Remember to try to direct rainwater at least 5 feet from house foundations to prevent potential leakage! For more information visit the Water Environment and Reuse Foundation.
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
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.