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: Groundwater Recharge

Photo © Dreamstock

Groundwater naturally recharges as rainfall or other surface water infiltrates into the ground. Precipitation falls on the land, soaks through the soil and moves to the water table. Natural recharge can also occur when water seeps from rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands to the water table. Much of Gering’s groundwater recharge occurs this way from the North Platte River and canal systems.

However, low precipitation this winter means groundwater levels haven’t recharged to typical levels. This makes water conservation more important.

Plan now to conserve water with:
– native plant landscapes
– efficient watering systems set with water saving practices like a drip system set for early morning or late evening watering and moisture sensor to avoid over watering.
– water harvesting practices like rain barrels or directing downspouts to lawn and garden areas
– utilizing indoor water saving techniques like shorter showers, full laundry and dishwasher loads and low-flow faucet taps and shower heads.

Waterwise Wednesday: Goin’ to the Dogs (and Cats)

Photo © Sunheyy

February holds several dog and cat designations: Dog Education Month, National Cat Health Month, Pet Dental Health Month and Responsible Pet Owners Month.

Part of good pet care is properly disposing of their waste. Pet waste is a leading source of both nutrient and bacteria pollution to urban streams and waterways. Feces carry concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and pathogens like Salmonella, E. Coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.

Pet waste pathogens threaten the safety garden grown food and drinking water supplies and can lead to severe intestinal diseases in humans when ingested.

Avoid expose family and friends by picking up and properly disposing pet waste. Pet waste be collected then either flushed or sacked and placed in the trash.

Waterwise Wednesday: No Salt, Please

big salt in the plate isolated over white

Just one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water creates a concentration toxic to some aquatic life and increases the corrosivness of water.

Road salts and most deicers contain chloride. When the snow and ice melt, the salty runoff flows down the storm drains to the North Platte River. Chloride is virtually impossible to remove from a waterbody.

Avoid chloride pollution with these tips:
– Shovel early and often to prevent snow compaction and ice formation.

– Scrape ice with an ice scraper or ice chisel.

– Salt or de-ice as a last resort. Salt or de-ice ONLY if pavement temperature is warm enough for application to be effective. Otherwise, lightly sprinkle sand for traction.

– Sweep residue after the melt to prevent residual salt, de-icer, or sand from washing into storm drains.

Photo © Ivan Kopylov

Waterwise Wednesday: Cold Weather Water Protection

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

This week’s sustained freezing temperatures could wreck havoc on water pipes. Protect your pipes by:

– Opening cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.
– Letting water drip slowly from inside faucets.
– Keep the doors shut on an attached garage if plumbing is routed through the space.
– Protect pipes that have frozen in the past

If the pipes freeze:
– Shut off the water immediately.
– Thaw slowly by applying heat with a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water.
– After thawing slowly turn water on to check for cracks and leaks.

Waterwise Wednesday: Planning, Policy and Protection

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

Scottsbluff, Gering and Terrytown work to preserve water quality, implement good stormwater management and flood prevention. Some of the cities’ tasks include:

– Working with agencies to identify and map floodplains, wetlands and riparian areas.

– Determining areas for development, avoidance, and other sensitive areas.

– Integrating natural drainage features or low impact features into planning to minimize disturbance.

– Collaborating with agencies for proper management and preservation of riparian zones, community forestry, and land management techniques.


Waterwise Wednesday: Avoid Holiday FOG Clog

Prevent FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) Clog this holiday season and throughout the year to reduce overflows, backups and clogs:

Never pour FOG down kitchen sinks, garbage disposals or into toilets!

Instead:
– Let FOGs cool after cooking, then put them into a disposable plastic bag, securely seal or tie, then put into the trash.

– Wipe pots, pans and plates with paper towels to capture any leftover grease before washing.

– Use a drain strainer to keep grease and food scraps out of the kitchen sink drain.

Photo © Rawpixel Images

Waterwise Wednesday: Winter Tree Watering

Photo © Publicdomainphotos

Trees – a vital part of our green infrastructure – may be dormant now, but they are still susceptible to cold and dry conditions. Lack of water through the winter season can damage root systems. The weakened trees may look normal in the spring, but will usually die back later in the summer.


Protect your trees with these winter watering tips:

– Water only when the temperature is above 40 degrees with no snow or ice on the ground.

-Water early in the day, so the water can soak in before the temperature drops at night.

– Use a soaker hose to focus water on the roots and avoid spraying branches or evergreen foilage.

– Water trees one or two times per month until they begin leafing out in the spring.