Waterwise Wednesday: It’s more than Big City

Denver’s Confluence Park, Chicago’s Riverwalk, and New York’s Highline Park are pretty, practical, and productive venues in their cities.
They’re all stormwater structures serving multiple purposes like water quality, flood prevention, recreation, habitat, and even economic development.

Scottsbluff’s Broadway bulb-outs, Riverside fishing ponds, and parking lot gardens follow the same philosophies using green infrastructure to provide not only water quality treatment but also places of recreation for our residents, habitats for a healthier environment, and ways to improve our quality of life.

Photos:
Riverside Ponds, L. Sato
Chicago Riverwalk, Armondo Sanchez, Chicago Tribune

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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: Landscape Tips

1.  Mulch to retain soil moisture and control weeds.

2. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need to be watered as frequently and they usually will survive a dry period without any watering.

3. Group plans together based on similar water needs.

4. Choose the right water system for the job. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses work well in plant beds, while sprinklers work better on the lawn.

Photo © Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

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Waterwise Wednesday: Hurray for Trees!

We know trees provide beauty and shade. But they also clean polluted water and provide a multitude of other benefits to the urban environment. Check out the Arbor Foundation’s interactive poster to see how trees improve our city and consider planting a tree for Arbor Day this Friday!

Waterwise Wednesday: Rain Harvesting Romans

Image may contain: sky, grass, plant, cloud, mountain, outdoor and natureRecent research suggests rain harvesting may have provided the 800 Roman soliders manning Hadrian’s Fort with 10 liters (2.62 gallons) of drinking water per per capita per day during their deployment.

Evidence at Hadrian’s Fort, a strategic Roman outpost along Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, indicates building rooftops were constructed to capture rainfall. The runoff collected in stone-lined tanks, two to six tanks per key building, capable of holding 2 cubic meters (about 528 gallons) of water each.

It’s an amazing feat of foresight, considering Hadrian’s Fort has no internal springs or wells, access to springs or waterways in the region, and an aqueduct supply would have been extremely impractical.

Photo by David Ross
Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg
Twice Brewed, Northumberland, England

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.