Waterwise Wednesday: The Twelve Wells of Scottsbluff

Twelve wells supply the City of Scottsbluff’s drinking water. We have no need to add chlorine or chemicals because of the high quality groundwater. The wells pump an average 4 million gallons a day to supply residents, businesses, and industry within the City.

Because we rely on groundwater it is important to avoid contaminating our supply. Materials like fertilizers, pesticides, gasoline, oil, road salts and chemicals move through soil and seep into groundwater supplies making it unsafe and unfit for human use. Please preserve our water supply with proper use and care of chemicals, cars, and other substances that can contribute to ground, and groundwater, pollution.

POCKET WETLANDS

Pocket Wetland

Pocket wetlands in urban areas filter, clean, and store water from multiple sources. They’re a place for rain and snow/ice melt to drain to. Wetlands act like sponges by holding flood waters and keeping rivers at normal levels. Multiple types of designs for pocket wetlands exist, with the volume, dry storage, and pond depth being the deciding differences. For more information on pocket wetlands please visit www.werf.org

Waterwise Wednesday: Policy Works

Researchers, led by Estelle Chaussard from the University of Buffalo, link ground water recovery in Santa Clara Valley California to the state’s newly instated water conservation efforts—policies that diverted surface water to refill aquifers

In 2013, interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSARa) measured a 2-centimeter decrease in ground-level elevation, followed by another 3 centimeters in 2014. The research team estimates a groundwater loss of about a tenth of a cubic kilometer caused the ground to shrink or lower.

Ground surfaces began to expand and rise in September 2015, rising nearly 2 centimeters over the next two years and were at pre-study levels by the end of 2016. This reflects the same time surface water diversion policy went into effect.

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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: Nebraska Water Trivia

1. True or False: Nebraska houses the most miles of river in the U.S.

2. True or False: Nebraska manufactures and uses the most center pivot irrigation systems in the world.

3. True or False: Nebraska contains the most groundwater of the fifty states.

1. True. Four major rivers, and many small rivers, flow nearly 23,000 miles across the state.

2. True. The top four center pivot system manufacturers are based in Nebraska and supply 85% of the global demand. Nebraska manufactures utilizes about 60,000 center pivot systems.

3. True. We sit on the High Plains Aquifer, which reaches eight states, the largest source of groundwater in the U.S.

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: Beware of the Toxic Algae

Blue-green algae can house cyanobacteria that causes illness ranging from mild rash to death in both humans and animals. Blue-green algae forms a scum like pea soup or paint on the surface of the water during the summer and fall. While most blue-algae is harmless, the cyanobacteria is not.

Nebraska monitors 52 public beaches May 1 to September 30 each year, including Lake Minatare, and posts current warnings on the webpage below. Cyanobacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye, so it’s recommended to avoid contact with blue-green algae blooms and to prevent pets from drinking or swimming near them.

For more information on toxic blue-green algae please see:

NDEQ Toxic Algae Factsheet: http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/ENV042607

EPA: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-…/health-and-ecological-effects

DEQ.NE.GOV

Waterwise Wednesday: Feeding the Blue-Green Algae Monster

 

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“..in the St. Lucie estuary, about half the sea grass, which is a food source for many marine animals, died off during last year’s algae blooms. Among humans who’ve been exposed to the algae, there has been an increase in antibiotic-resistant staph infections. Florida’s governor has declared a state of emergency in four counties,” according to Janice Kaspersen, editor of Stormwater: The Journal for Surface Water Quality Professionals.

Fertilizer in water runoff is boosting the growth of blue-green algae and hurting more than Florida’s $109 billion a year tourist industry. Cyanobacteria flourish with phosphorus and nitrogen, primary ingredients in fertilizers. The fertilizer boosts growth that create large algae blooms during summer and fall that deplete oxygen and diminish sunlight in the water. The bacteria not only affect aquatic life but also cause beach closures for health safety.

Fertilizer is one of the largest pollutants of stormwater runoff in urban areas. Please use fertilizers “sparingly and caringly” – apply according to the directions, when wind is still, and rain is not in the immediate forecast. You’ll be protecting more than just your plants.

Photograph: Toxic blue-green algae bloom in Klamath River in California taken by David McLain for National Geographic.