Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Talk Lawns, Rain Barrel Sale, Storm Drain Artists

This post is a 3 in one.
1. Let's Talk Lawns program.  Speakers on healthy soils, organic lawn care, and keeping your yard clean.  The talk starts at 6 p.m. at the Superior Public Library.  We will also have some prizes.  Come learn.

2. This week's weather forecast is wet all week.  Have you ever collected or 'harvested' rain to use later?  Rain collected from your roof makes a good water source for lawns and gardens.  UWS is having a rain barrel and composter sale. 
The prices are $55 for a rain barrel and $45 for an Earth Machine composter.   Please pre-order by May 5.  Call Carrie at 715/394-8525. The form is available at
There will also be a Truckload sale of the same items and same prices at Lake Superior College parking lot on the morning of May 17.

3. Finally, you'll be hearing more and seeing more art in Superior as six local artists have been selected to paint their artwork beside a storm drain in Superior.  The six drains are spread throughout town and will be painted in May  (we need dry weather....!!!)

2014 Superior Storm Drain Artists

The six selected artists are:
Tom Rep, Jeredt Runions, Falyn McCotter, Colin James Wiita, Holly Bounting, and Chelsey Miller.

Stay tunes as their work becomes part of Superior - and part of a message and awareness about stormwater pollution. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stuff going on this week

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Earth Day! We only have one Earth, and it is our roles to protect it.  

Wednesday is World Book Night at the Superior Middle School. It is a free, community event. You can browse books and other materials at the booths. We'll be there with free bookmarks and info on pet waste. Come check it out and pick up a free book!

Thursday is the start of Scoop the Poop Week! Are you finding a lot of pet waste with the melting snow? It is time to scoop it up! Pet waste carries may diseases and should not be left on the ground. It is considered a pollutant to the environment just like pesticides.

Friday is Arbor Day! Plant a tree. Trees are very beneficial to water quality. They help stabilize soils and prevent erosion, they slow down runoff by retaining rain water in their leaves and roots. We'll be out at the library for a little bit during their book sale, and a couple of the Super Ones in town to acknowledge Scoop the Poop week.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ESD Water Words Poetry Contest


Water Words Poetry & Short Prose Contest

  For Superior residents of all ages.

Submit your entry by May 22 (one month after Earth Day)

Why is water important?  What should we be doing to help keep it clean?  Use your creativity to paint a picture with words expressing the role water has here in Superior or in the world. 


Please limit entry to one page.  Submit entry (1 per person) and include name and age (or indiciate adult).   Also, include your phone number, email and address. 

Submit poem or short prose by May 22 via email to within the email or as an attachment or mail or drop off at
Environmental Services,
51 E. 1st St.,
Superior, WI 54880. 
Questions?  715/394-0392


Monday, April 14, 2014

Thinking of lawn care?

It's a great time of year! The sun is shining and the snow is melting. It is time to start thinking about our yards! Though we strive to have a lush green lawn, keep in mind that overuse of phosphorus and nitrogen based fertilizers have a profound effect on the watershed, which includes streams, rivers, lakes, and the entire watershed. When heavily applied, these nutrient rich lawns produce nutrient rich runoff, these often go untreated before entering a stream which ultimately leads to our Lake Superior.

Think you're being conscientious by not using any fertilizer? Think again! A U of M study found that neglected lawns produce more polluted runoff than a modestly fertilized, cared for lawn. Everything in moderation!

Lake Superior residents, if we are to live up to our name, lets act like it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

UWS Science Night is Friday, April 11 starting at 5 p.m.

All ages can learn more about science and the environment by an event organized by Students of Science at UWS.  The event will have learning stations (including us) and some additional activities.

Professor Gizmo and birds from the Raptor Center are also part of the evenings activities.

The Environmental Services booth will have EnviroScape which is a model part of a town to use as a learning tool about stormwater runoff.  Industries are point source pollutants.

What are some nonpoint source pollutants? 

Here are a few:

soil erosion from a construction site
fertilizer from a yard or golf course
dog waste (bacteria and organics)
dripped oil from a vehicle
dirt from a roof
waste from a farm
grass clippings and leaves from a lawn in the street
soap from washing a vehicle on an impervious surface

If you would like us to come visit a school group or club in Superior and bring along this interactive model, just let us know.

The model is for talking about where nonpoint solution comes from but also how we can prevent it. 

Can you think how a town could help reduce stormwater pollution runoff? 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring is here!

Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s and 50s this week. That means all the snow we've been getting will finally be melting! Have you been noticing the storm drains emerging from the receding snow banks? We have. The warm weekend temperatures resulted in trickling water. The snowmelt is also uncovering all the litter and debris that accumulated over the winter. Along the newly exposed storm drains are a lot of sand, cigarette butts, plant debris, and much more.

Have you considered a Spring Sweep around your home? The City does this, sweeping up streets to collect sand. Remember the storm drains DOES NOT get treated before entering a nearby stream. You can help prevent all the accumulated litter from entering our waters by doing a spring sweep of your own. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Slow Down Stormwater Runoff - now on air!

A Slow Down Stormwater Runoff commercial by ESD will air on FOX TV multiple times per week through May 11.  The message is to plant trees, native plants, and have a rain barrel as ways to slow down runoff.  Runoff can carry pollutants down storm drains but if we can reduce the runoff and slow it - and not litter and use less chemicals such as fertilizers and pick up pet waste we can have only clean runoff going down storm drains.

The EPA has a great summary with the mantra:  Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In.

Here are doable things to do in your yard - or at your church or....

1. Add plants. Incorporate plantings, especially in areas where
runoff collects. As runoff soaks into soil, plant roots help to absorb and filter out pollutants. When runoff soaks into and percolates through soil, the soil also acts as a filter, removing some pollutants.

2. Protect trees. Like other plant roots, tree roots help absorb and filter runoff. Tree canopies also slow rainfall and spread it over a larger area.

3. Break up slabs. Replace concrete patio slabs with pavers, flagstones, or bricks that allow water to soak in between items. For driveways, consider using turf block or leaving a strip of grass up the center.

4. Go permeable. Choose a permeable material for a path, patio, or driveway. Less expensive options include aggregate base, gravel, mulch, or crushed shells. Pricier options include pervious concrete or asphalt.

5. Catch runoff. Install a rain barrel or cistern to catch stormwater runoff from roofs. Use this water to irrigate garden plants.

6. Dig a trench. Use a shallow, gravel-filled trench to catch and slow runoff, especially at the base of a slope or alongside a driveway or patio. For slopes, consider creating a dry creek to catch, slow down and direct runoff, perhaps to a rain garden (see below).

7. Plant a rain garden. A rain garden is designed to catch and slow runoff. It’s frequently planted in low areas, at the base of a slope, or near downspout outlets. The design includes soil layers, mulch, and plants, all of which filter rainwater as it seeps into soil. Check with your local cooperative extension agency to learn rain garden basics.

8. Cover soil. Depending on the type, bare soil can be like concrete in terms of its ability to absorb water. Cover bare soil with mulch or a ground cover to slow stormwater runoff.

9. Swap lawn. Trade turf for native plants, which are adapted to local growing conditions and require fewer inputs (once established) than turf.

10. Drive on the grass. If your driveway isn’t permeable, wash your car on the lawn so water can soak into soil, instead of running  into the street