Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spring (summer?) has sprung!

Well, it looks like summer has decided to grace us with its presence after all.  I know many of us here in the Northland had our doubts.  For a lot of people, summer time means spending time outside, enjoying the few months we have of sun and green plants.  With this comes more water use and some potential for stormwater pollution.  I'll go into a little more detail below....
To begin, let's talk about your vehicle.  Summer is the time when many people cruise around, take their cars to shows, and take scenic drives on the weekends.  If your car gets dirty, you may be tempted to save a couple dollars and wash it in your driveway (after all, gas is expensive this time of year).  However, if you're washing your car with a bucket of water (or hose) and some soap in the driveway, all of that will go running down, past the sidewalk, into the road, and end up in the storm drains.  The majority of the storm drains in Superior don't end up at the treatment plant...they end up in Lake Superior, untreated.  If your car needs a wash, either take it to a local car wash that properly disposes of their used water or wash your car on the lawn.  This way, the water will sink into the ground and not run off.

Another way to prevent pollution outdoors is to use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers sparingly, as needed. Some water pollution problems could be prevented if products such as these were only used when needed and as sparingly as possible. When excess fertilizers run off into the storm drains, the water carrying the fertilizers ends up in the lake. This adds phosphorous to the water. Phosphorous is a limiting factor for algae growth, meaning that algae growth is kept in check because algae needs phosphorous (a nutrient) and there isn't an unlimited supply in nature. When stormwater filled with fertilizers ends up in our water bodies, phosphorous isn't limiting anymore, so the algae can grow unchecked. The algae use up much of the oxygen in the water and lead to "dead zones" where there is no oxygen for living things. 

In addition to preventing pollution during the summer months, there are many opportunities to save water outdoors.  For example, you could use a rain barrel to capture water and use it in on your lawn or flower beds.  Rain barrels keep water out of the storm sewer system and you don't have to pay for the water in them.  We do have some rain barrels still for sale; if you're interested, call us at 715-394-0392.  You'll be gettng the wholesale price, tax included.  Over 30% of the water we use is used outdoors and more than half of that is for the lawn and garden.  More than half of lawn/garden water is actually wasted.  This means there's a lot of potential for saving water.  Your lawn doesn't need to be watered every day, and you should never water in the middle of the day or when the forecast calls for rain.  We'll have a webinar about saving water in your yard and in your home on June 25th.  Register here: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/768077919 .

Preventing stormwater pollution and over use of water keeps our lakes and rivers healthier and less stressed.  Keep these tips in mind as you get ready to celebrate the warm weather.  Happy summer, everyone!

For more information, check out our webinar (linked above) or give us a call at 715-394-0392.
-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

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