Waterwise Wednesday: Cooling Tips

No air conditioning? Stay cool with these water tips:

1. Drink cold water – ideally ice water. Keep ice water in a reusable insulated water bottle to sip throughout the day to cool off and stay hydrated.

2. Dip feet in cool water, just enough to cover the top of the feet. While the feet soak, dab a cold washcloth or ice pack on pulse points — temples, neck, elbow crooks, wrists, behind the knees, and ankles.

3. Take a tepid or cool shower or bath.

4. Chill sheets and take a freezer pack to bed. Wrap the pack in a washcloth and put it in a water-tight Ziploc bag to avoid leaks and condensation.

5. Spritz curtains with water or hang a damp sheet in front of an open window or fan. The breeze evaporates water as the it passes over the damp curtains or sheet. Setting a tray or bowl of ice in front of a fan is another option.

Photo © Paweł Szpytma

Waterwise Wednesday: Summer Water

Scottsbluff water use triples in the summer and about 2/3 goes to landscape watering. Save money, energy, and water with wiser outdoor water use.

1. Avoid overwatering – aim for .75 to 1.5 inches a week depending on the week’s temperatures. Or do the footprint test – if the grass springs up, moisture levels are good. If the grass footprint stays flat, time to water.

2. Water in short sessions to promote absorption instead of flood irrigating.

3. Mow at least 3 inches high to retain moisture and lower water demand.

4. In the long-term, invest in native and drought tolerant landscaping that are hardier and require less water and chemical for their upkeep.

5. Install drip and/or smart water systems to water only where necessary and when needed.

Photo © Publicdomainphotos

Waterwise Wednesday: Fire(works) and Water

Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic chemicals (PBTs) like copper, lead, perchlorate, and lithium remain on firework debris after detonation. PBTs remain in the environment for very long periods of time, are highly resistant to degradation, easily enter and quickly accumulate in the food chain and can be toxic to both humans and animals.

– Please pick up firework debris. Let spent fireworks sit only until they’re no longer hot or burning then move them to a bucket with water.

– Water used to soak spent fireworks should be flushed in a toilet so the water can be treated at the wastewater treatment plant. Please do not pour the water down the gutter or on lawns to avoid contaminating ground and water with PBTs.

– Sweep small firework particles and put them in a plastic bag for disposal in the trash. The particles are prone to travel in the wind or in water runoff spreading PBTs to soils and waterways.

Photo: S. Schanaman

Waterwise Wednesday: Holding Water with Healthy Soil

Hand holding a small plant and stream of water

Water less and boost plant health with healthy soil. Pores in healthy soil increase the water holding power and nutrient access for root systems too, which not only help plant growth but also prevent erosion, soil pollution, and further increase water retention.

Save water and Increase soil water retention with these tips:

– Avoid compaction with heavy equipment to preserve porous spaces in the soil.

– Add compost to your soil to improve its ability filter water more effectively during heavy rain and retain more moisture for plants during drought.

– Use drip irrigation to water plants’ directly above the roots and minimize evaporation.

– Place plants close enough to shade areas of bare soil between them to save water and resulting in fewer weeds. To retain moisture in the soil between plants that need wide spacing, try a weed barrier like mulch, or under sow a ground cover that won’t grow tall and compete.

Photo © Ongap

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Saving for the Yard

1. Water early in the morning to soak water into lawns and prevent loss to wind or evaporation.

2. Time watering sessions and don’t overwater. Most lawns only need about an inch of water per week to thrive.

3. Look for leaks to prevent unnecessary water loss.

4. Mow at least three inches high to avoid stressing grass turf during hot weather.

Photo © Publicdomainphotos

Waterwise Wednesday: Wildflowers and Water Quality

This week we celebration Nebraska Wildflower Week and all the benefits wildflowers provide for our environment, including clean water.

– Wildflower’s extensive and deep root systems slow down runoff, reduce soil erosion, and absorb dirty water before it gets into the nearby waterways.

– Wildflowers provide critical habitat for pollinators, beneficial insects, and wildlife.

– Wildflowers are native to where they grow, conditioned to thrive there. That means they use less water and fertilizer, resist disease and are more tolerant to pests.

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

Waterwise Wednesday: Sparingly and Caringly

Fertilizer is the largest pollutant in stormwater runoff and spawns large algae blooms, nutrient overload, and hypoxic (or Dead zones) in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Protect water from fertilizer:

– Apply fertilizer according to instructions

– Use only the amount needed

– Sweep stray fertilizer back onto the lawn or garden to keep it out of the gutter.

– Switch to native landscaping which require less fertilizer and water for their upkeep.

Graphic: AskHRGreen.org

Waterwise Wednesday: Sprinkler Spruce Up

Simply follow four steps to get your sprinkler system ready for the season and running efficiently.

  1. Inspect and replace clogged, broken or missing sprinkler heads.
  2. Check for leaks where heads and pipes connect, tighten if needed.
  3. Direct sprays on the landscape.
  4. Select the proper watering schedule or employ a weather-based irrigation controller.

Photo: Donkeyru

Waterwise Wednesday: Stop Food Waste Day

Cold food – salami and fresh vegetables served on plate

“Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States,” according to the National Resource Defense Council (2012).  

Annually, 133 billion pounds, about 219 pounds per person, of food is wasted, that equals 30–40 % of the food supply produced in the United States.  Food waste creates the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and a large source of US methane emissions.   

 Stop Food Waste by:

  1. Shopping smart
    • buy only what you need or what you know you’ll use before  food goes bad
    • ask for smaller portions or take left-overs home to eat when eating out
    • Use serving size information on the Nutrition Facts label to help portion meals or snacks.
  2. Store smart – Food spoilage accounts for over 60% of food waste.
    • Check the fridge often to keep track of what you have and what needs to be used.
    • Keep the refrigerator temperature at 40° F  or below and the freezer at 0° F to keep foods safe.
    • Use your freezer! Most foods will keep in the freezer until ready to eat.
    • Follow the 2-Hour Rule. For safety reasons, don’t leave perishables out at room temperature for more than two hours, unless you’re keeping it hot or cold. If the temperature is above 90° F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than one hour. Also, remember to refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
  3. Eat Smart!
    • Eat the whole food – don’t miss out on the nutrients in the skins of fruits and vegetables
    • Learn about food product dating –  know the difference between “sell by”, “best by” and “use by” labels.

Photo © Miroslav Beneda

Waterwise Wednesday: Arbor Day

Photo © Melinda Nagy

Trees help manage manage stormwater runoff and protect water by reducing runoff that can carry pollutants to waterways.

– Tree leaves help reduce erosion caused by falling rain by intercepting droplets

– Trees provide surface area for rain to land and evaporate on their leaves, branches and bark.

-Tree roots soak up water and create soil conditions in the soil that promote infiltration.

– Trees can filter pollutants out of the water that moves through their cells and even the soil near the roots.

Plant a tree on Arbor Day, Nebraska’s homegrown holiday, next Saturday, April 30.