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: 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: Water Sense Savings

How much water could you save by switching to Water Sense labeled faucets, toilets, shower heads, sprinkler heads or irrigation controllers?

Water Sense labeled products and services are certified to use at least 20 percent less water, save energy, and perform as well as or better than regular models. Saving you water and money.

Waterwise Wednesday: Fall Water Tips

Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos

1. Change the Timer. Cooler weather means lawns require less water.

2. Do a thorough sprinkler system check and make necessary repairs. A line puncture 1/32nd of an inch in diameter wastes up to 6,300 gallons of water per month, which is higher than both Scottsbluff and Gering’s monthly minimum water use rate. (Rates increase for water use above 5,000 gallons per month in both cities.)

3. Plan(t) Ahead. Fall is a great time to introduce native perennials and grasses to your landscaping. They establish root systems during the fall and, once mature, will use less water and chemicals than traditional landscape plants.

Waterwise Wednesday: Water Cooling Tactics

Photo © Zhigong Zhang

Try these simple hacks that use minimal water to help keep cool.

1. Cold compress. Refrigerate damp washcloths or sponges then apply to pulse pulse points like wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and/or behind your knees where blood vessels are close to the surface.

2. Ice Fan. Place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice’s surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.

3. Wet Blanket. Dampen a sheet with cool water, wring well (or spin in the washer) and use it as a blanket. The evaporation keeps you cool through the night. Recommend using a dry towel under your body and/or waterproof mattress pad to avoid soaking the mattress.

4. Wet Curtain. Hang a damp sheet in front of an open window, or fan. The evaporation caused by the breeze on the sheet should cool the room.

Waterwise Wednesday: Change Your Life Challenge 2020

Looking for ways to save water, energy, money and waste less?

Take a peek at the Change Your Life Challenge 2020 (CYCL 2020) based here in the Nebraska Panhandle.

It’s a year long facebook-based community group exploring a different theme each month with weekly challenges to help transform living habits to be more sustainable, environmentally friendly, energy efficient, or a combination thereof. Several local businesses and entities have partnered in an effort to connect residents with helpful resources and information to become more efficient stewards of resources.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/489003041692075/

Waterwise Wednesday: Winter Water Tips

Photo © Valdore

Use the cold weather to try some indoor water management.

1. Check for leaks and fix right away. A 1/32 inch hole can leak 6,000 gallons of water per month.

2. Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads to use less water without compromising flow in the bath and sinks.

3. Place a jug of water or brick in the toilet tank to displace water and use less per flush or replace the toilet with a Water Sense high-efficiency model that uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less.

4. Wash full loads, many washing machines don’t adjust for load size and run 40 or more gallons of water per cycle. Make best use of the water by washing only full loads or remember to set your machine for a lesser load, if it can be adjusted.

5. Insulate your water heater and water pipes. Check the water heater tank for an R-value of at least 24. If its not, insulating your water tank could reduce standby heat loss by 25%–45%.

Waterwise Wednesday: Drops to Watts

Graphic: EPA.gov/Watersense

Saving water saves energy. Simply running a faucet for five minutes uses about as much energy as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb staying on for 14 hours, according to the EPA.

How can you save both water and energy?

1. Use less water or use it efficiently – shorter showers, full loads of dishes, turn the tap off while brushing teeth or washing dishes, use a hot water kettle or microwave to heat only the water you need.

2. Find and fix leaks in toilets, sinks, sprinkler systems and appliances.

3. Use cold water instead of hot when possible – laundry, washing fruits and vegetables (use the rinsewater for house plants), rinsing cleaning products

4. Install low-flow fixtures and faucet aerators in showers and sinks.

5. Replace worn out and older inefficient appliances with Water Sense and Energy Star labeled products tested and designed to use water and energy more efficiently – toilets, washing machines, and water heaters are big ones.