The leaves have just about fallen off all of the trees! Avoid clogging storm drains with these great tips for proper leaf disposal.
Please feel free to print and share our Tips for Proper Leaf Disposal Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
Finely chopped leaves make for an excellent lawn fertilizer. Mulch leaves by running over them with your mower during the next cutting, and leave the remains on the lawn. You can also spread the mulch across flower and vegetable beds.
Composting leaves is a great way to create nutrient-rich soil. In a mixed pile, create a 2-to-1 ratio of dead leaves to grass clippings. Spreading leaves over food scraps will soak up moisture and help contain odors as well.
Protect Our Waterways
Avoid raking leaves into or nearby storm drains, ditches, creeks, or rivers. In addition to clogging the drains, decaying leaves use up the water’s oxygen, harming aquatic inhabitants.
In addition to keeping ourselves cool and hydrated during the summer months, we also have to pay mind to our plants and yards. With excess heat burning down, keeping plants and grass healthy requires a lot more water. Check out six tips for how you can conserve water and save money this summer.
Please feel free to print and share our 6 Tips to Conserve Water & Save Money Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
Check For Leaks
Walk around your landscaped area to make sure there are no leaks your watering systems.
Sweep Up Messes
Rather than using a hose to spray a mess away, use a broom to clean patios, decks, and sidewalks.
Mindful Car Washing
Avoid wasting water with a running hose. Instead, fill a soapy bucket with water so you can wash and rinse as need.
Mulch Planted Areas
Mulching flower beds and planted areas can help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Two to three inches of mulch should do the trick.
Water your lawn and plants early in the morning or later in the evening. This will prevent the water from being quickly evaporated by the sun.
Collect water in rain barrels so you can later water your outdoor plants without running the hose.
We hope you will consider these tips as you aim to conserve water and save money this summer.
During the spring and summer months, stormwater pollution is especially prevalent. Water resulting from precipitation and snow/ice melt either soaks into exposed soil or remains on top of impervious surfaces. As stormwater flows as runoff to nearby waterways, it picks up pollutants including debris, sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste and more.
A major contributor to stormwater pollution is traced back to residual excess from lawn care maintenance – particularly with fertilizers and lawn clippings.
Check out the five tips below for ways to reduce stormwater pollution when it comes to your lawn maintenance.
Please feel free to print and share our Stormwater Pollution and Lawn Maintenance Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
Use Fertilizer Sparingly
A little goes a long way. Many plants don’t need as much fertilizer or need it as often as you think. Reduce stormwater pollution by minimizing your fertilizer during the spring and summer.
Use Organic, Phosphorous Free Fertilizers
In addition to reducing stormwater pollution with the amount of fertilizer you use, it’s equally important to use the proper type. Organic, phosphorous free fertilizers release nutrients slower and are less detrimental to the environment.
Proper Disposal of Waste
One of the best ways to reduce stormwater pollution is with the proper disposal of lawn waste. Leaves and grass clippings can wash into storm drains, adding unwanted nutrients to streams.
Stop pollutants from making their way into the storm drain by avoiding over-watering as well as fertilizing before a rainstorm.
Even though a product may be small enough to flush, does not mean it should be. Flushing items down the toilet that are not meant to be flushed, including those labeled flushable, can lead to problems in the sewer system, at the wastewater treatment facility and for the environment.
This handy two-page infographic illustrates things never to flush!
Here’s a problem that nobody wants to mess with, clogged toilets, backed up sewer systems, and the costly repairs to fix this stink.
While there are many obvious things not to flush down the toilet, an astonishing amount of non-flushable wipes, paper products, dental floss, and other dispensable hygiene products are flushed down toilets every day. This has contributed to cities and municipalities dealing with chronic clogged sewer systems and expensive wastewater treatment maintenance, not to mention homeowners who face the inconvenient problem of having a toilet back up in their home.
These raw sewage messes aren’t pretty and are not easy or inexpensive to fix.
Here’s the indispensable truth about what goes down the toilet.
Even though many items can be flushed down the toilet, it’s misleading to believe that everything is ‘flushable’ and safe for our sewer systems and environment. The journey is just beginning when that swirling eddy of water makes everything in the toilet bowl disappear.
All the solids flushed down the toilet that don’t dissolve, eventually end up at a wastewater treatment facility. Traveling miles and miles through pipes underneath our streets and sidewalks, this raw sewage flows by gravity or with the help of pump stations towards a wastewater treatment facility. Most of this waste is taken care of, out of sight, by Municipalities who work every day to maintain this process.
However, the pump stations are periodically clogged by non-disposable waste that is flushed down the toilet. Products that are designated as ‘non-flushable’ are often made with plastic fibers and do not break down in wastewater systems. Even products that are labeled as ‘flushable’, do not easily disintegrate in water like toilet paper.
For example, popular flushable personal care wipes (for both babies and adults) are marketed as a convenient, portable, and a hygienic way to keep clean. Manufacturers claim these flushable wipes are septic-safe or safe for sewer systems. The problem is these products take much longer to break down as compared to traditional toilet paper.
And, here’s the reason why.
A well-known manufacturer of flushable wipes claims their product passes what is called a ‘slosh’ distribution test. The wipes, which are made of ‘non-woven clothlike material’, must be strong enough to handle the manufacturing process, hold up while being used, and still be weak enough to break apart after being flushed down the toilet.
The slosh test checks the potential for wipes to break down in water during agitating conditions. A box containing water and one or more wipes tips back and forth, slowly and repeatedly “sloshing” the wipes for three hours. All fibers from the test are strained from the slosh box and then poured through a 12½-millimeter sieve (consistent with industry guidelines) and rinsed for two minutes to measure the percentage of fiber material that passes through the sieve.
The problem is, unlike toilet paper that quickly disperses in circulating water, the tightly woven fabric of the wipes takes much longer to breakdown (as noted in the slosh test), and while these products may not clog pipes immediately, imagine everything flushed down the toilet snagging on it, expanding, and gathering together to clog pipes and sewage pumps.
Private and municipal sewer system operators end up sifting through what’s left in the wastewater to clear these obstructions—often costing millions of dollars to maintain and repair.
Sadly, many of these disposable products are regularly flushed down the toilet. In a recent study, more than 98 percent of what was found at a wastewater treatment plant was non-flushable personal care wipes, paper towels, dental floss, diapers, tampons, condoms, cleaning wipes and other ‘trash’ not intended to be flushed.
And there are many more flushing no-nos—seemingly harmless and not so harmless items regularly flushed down the toilet.
Here is a list of things never to flush:
Baby wipes and diapers (including types labeled ‘flushable’ or ‘disposable’): Diapers can take up to 500 years to degrade in a landfill. These highly absorbent synthetic materials are slow to breakdown and can block sewer systems.
Paper towels: Just like wipes, these common household items are designed to not breakdown when wet and absorb liquids.
Cotton balls, cosmetic pads and cotton swabs: These items tend to gather in pipe bends causing blockages.
Dental Floss: This little string can cause havoc to plumbing and sewer systems.
Medications or Supplements: Wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to breakdown pharmaceuticals. While drugs may dilute in the waste stream, studies have shown the presence of medicines such as steroid hormones and antidepressants in wastewater effluent. The EPA1 refers to this as “Personal Care Products as Pollutants,” which also includes residues from cosmetics, agribusiness, and veterinary use.
Medical Supplies: Razors, bandages and hypodermic needles are often flushed, but quite simply, they don’t degrade. The razor blades and needles also present a danger to employees who need to remove the items that clog the system.
Rubber: Items such as latex gloves and condoms, are made of a material that is not intended to breakdown in liquid.
Cat litter (including types labeled ‘flushable’): The absorbent properties of litter (generally clay and sand) are designed to ‘clump’ and will clog sewer systems.
Feminine Hygiene Products (sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators): Like cat litter, these products are designed to absorb liquids and swell in the process, clogging pipes, get stuck in bends and block sewer lines.
Fats, oil, and grease: Known in the wastewater industry as ‘FOG,’ are liquids that solidify when cooled, and this creates significant problems for public wastewater systems, as well as drains in your home.
Hair: Like dental floss, flushed hair can cause tangled blockages ensnaring everything that passes by.
Food products: banana peels, apple core, leftovers. While these may degrade over time, food products simply do not disintegrate fast enough and can cause blockages throughout the system.
Trash of any kind: All this litter does not easily biodegrade.
Candy and other food wrappers
Chemicals: paint, automotive fluids, solvents, and poisons, are just terrible pollutants to flush. Just as wastewater treatment plants are not designed to screen out pharmaceuticals, these facilities are not designed to eliminate toxic chemicals.
Heavy Metals: These pollutants include, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lithium (think batteries) and lead, etc. Please dispose of any of these toxins properly to prevent harm to the environment and the potential for serious health risks.
Flushable toilets and the wastewater facilities that treat our raw sewage are indispensable services in modern life. It’s long time we take responsibility and think twice about what is flushed down the toilet—for the sake of our sewers systems and wastewater treatment processes, and our indispensable precious environment.
Unidirectional flushing (UDF) is a unique process utilized to maintain a distribution system as well as learn critical information about the system. An effective UDF program should be conducted annually, at a minimum. Check out our UDF infographic that shows the benefits of UDF over conventional flushing:
Please feel free to print and share, with attribution, our UDF Infographic. A high resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
While many New Year’s resolutions include renewing that old gym membership or cleaning out the garage, a great way to start the new year off right is to focus on conserving water. With severe drought across the country, including New England, water is becoming ever more valuable and people are looking for ways to get the most out of every drop. One of the easiest steps we can take to help mitigate the impacts of drought is conserving water. Unlike most New Year’s resolutions, making a few simple changes to save water is an easy resolution to stick to and it makes a significant difference in the world. Let’s look at a few simple ways you and your community can conserve water.
Ditch Those Old Appliances
The average person in the United States uses about 80-100 gallons of water each day. Of that amount, almost all of it comes from appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, and faucets. Toilets alone account for approximately 27% of the water consumed in your home and many older toilets use up to seven gallons of water per flush. Installing a high-efficiency toilet that uses less than 2 gallons per flush can save up to 18,000 gallons of water a year – about $120 off your water bill annually. And if you really want to go green, and are brave to boot – consider one of these alternative toilets!
Washing machines offer another opportunity to save water year-round. Washing machines, on average, account for around 20% of a household’s water use, and switching to a high-efficiency washing machine can cut that water consumption in half. If one in ten American households were to install high-efficiency appliances, we would save 74 billion gallons of water per year as a nation. That’s an annual savings of about $1.5 billion dollars on utility bills. These appliances may have a higher upfront cost, but when you save 30-75 percent of your water bill each month, these investments quickly pay for themselves.
For a more affordable option, updating fixtures such as showerheads and faucets around the house can significantly reduce the amount of water you use. Conventional showerheads use as much as 10 gallons of water per minute. Modern showerheads use just 2-3 gallons per minute, which saves water and minimizes the stress on your water heater. Also, installing faucet aerators can help regulate water pressure to create varying flow rates to use less water depending on the task at hand, saving thousands of gallons annually. Updating your appliances and faucets is the most cost effective solution when it comes to saving water. Combined with simple lifestyle changes, these innovative technologies enable us to save significant amounts of water.
Small Leaks, Big Problems
Although it may look insignificant, a lightly dripping faucet can waste over 20 gallons of water per day. Toilet leaks are another major problem that often go undetected. To check if a toilet might be leaking, place a “toilet dye” tablet in the toilet tank and closely monitor the toilet bowl. If, without flushing, the water in the bowl changes color within half an hour, the toilet has a leak that needs to be repaired. Another way to determine if there is a water leak in your home is to read your house water meter before and after an extended period when no water is being used, like when the family is away on vacation. If the meter does not stay the same, then you have a leak somewhere in your home.
Manage the Meat
Our favorite steak or burger may taste great, but it takes a lot of water to reach the dinner plate. A pound of beef requires almost 2,500 gallons of water to produce. By avoiding beef for just one day a week, we can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In fact, we would save more water by not eating one pound of beef than we would by not showering for six months. We can save even more by cutting out other foods that require a lot of water to produce such as almonds (1,929 gal/lb.), chocolate (2,061 gal/lb.), pork (1630 gal/lb.), and butter (2,044 gal/lb.). When we do eat beef or other water intensive foods, we should choose pasture raised because grass is less likely to require irrigation compared to corn or soy used in the conventional method of raising livestock. Even cutting out that one extra cup of coffee each day can save hundreds of gallons of water. Being conscious of what we eat is not only good for our health, but also the environment.
To Wrap It Up
When it comes to daily water usage, even the smallest action to save water is significant to combat our country’s severe drought. Paying attention to how you and your family use water in your home will help you come up with the best ways in which your family can make simple changes that can have a big impact. For your New Year’s resolution, think of one thing each day that will save water – even small ideas can add up to big savings, for both our wallet and our planet.
It is widely known how important water is to our lives and the world we live in. Our body and planet is comprised of about 70% water – making it seem like it is easily accessible and plentiful. However, when you rule out our oceans and ice caps, less than 1% of all the water on Earth is drinkable. Of that less than 1%, groundwater only accounts for 0.28% of fresh water around the globe. Safe drinking water is a privilege we often take for granted while we brush our teeth or drink a glass of water in the morning. While we are giving thanks to our family, friends, and food during Thanksgiving, we should also give big thanks for our clean drinking water and the people who make it happen.
The Importance of Clean Water
Keeping yourself hydrated can do wonders for your health. The benefits water provides for our bodies range from relieving headaches, flushing toxins out of the body, improving mood, helping with weight loss, and relieving fatigue. In the U.S., we are fortunate enough to have some of the cleanest drinking water anywhere in the world to keep us healthy and safe. In other countries and for some 783 million people, that is not the case. Many do not have access to sufficient drinking water and the water they do have often contains dangerous pathogens. Often, unclean water sources are miles from villages and some people are forced to spend hours each day simply finding and transporting water. The typical container used for water collection could weigh between 40 and 70 pounds when filled. Imagine how difficult it would be to carry the equivalent of a 5-year-old child for three hours out of each day just to have water to drink. With so many people not having access to clean drinking water around the world, it is important to appreciate the plentiful and safe drinking water we have here in America.
A Special Thanks for the People Who Make Our Water Safe
When looking at America’s clean water, it is especially important to give special thanks to the water and wastewater utilities that work nonstop to give us some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. Despite the fact that our country has beautiful rivers and lakes, the water that comes from them to our taps goes through several processes that require a lot of work and maintenance. Our water and wastewater utilities maintain some of the highest standards in the world when it comes to drinking water, and new innovations for treatment and distribution are always being researched and implemented. Water and wastewater employees work tirelessly to meet regulatory requirements and preserve local waterways despite major setbacks like deteriorating infrastructure and shrinking funding for necessary projects. On top of treating our water, utilities are responsible for keeping their distribution systems running efficiently and also to being stewards to the environment through improving effluent quality. Our water utilities are arguably the most important utilities in the nation because water is so crucial to our survival.
We are so incredibly fortunate here in the United States to not have to think twice about the purity of water from the tap, a glass of water in a restaurant, a highway rest stop, an airport, or motel – all thanks to our water and wastewater utilities. For that, we should be especially thankful. This Thanksgiving, be sure to give special thanks for having safe drinking water and to the dedicated, hard-working people at water and wastewater utilities.