Saturday, March 21, 2020

Penn State Extension: Celebrate Water At Home! Fix A Leak, Plant A Tree!

By Jennifer R. Fetter, Extension Water Resources Educator

You don’t have to be with a large group or at an organized event to “volunteer” for water and the environment. There are plenty of things you can do alone or with your family at home.
There are lots of special dates on the calendar that often trigger us to seek community events to participate in; World Water Day on March 22, Earth Day on April 22, Arbor Day on the last Friday in April [April 24], and so many more. 
Lots of great organizations plan fairs and festivals, group volunteer opportunities, and educational seminars. These are wonderful to take part in. 
Sometimes circumstances keep us at home or prevent us from being in large groups. Here are some great ideas that you can do alone, with just your family, or on your own property.
Fix A Leak
A dripping faucet can waste a lot of water and money. Even if you only have one leaky faucet dripping one drop per minute, that’s over 30 gallons per year. 
There are over 105 million households in the United States. If even half of them had one leaky faucet, that would be over 1.5 billion gallons of water wasted each year! 
You can be a leak detective in your home and help lower that number by fixing the leaks you find. Check all the faucets in your home for leaks annually, including outdoor faucets for garden hoses. 
You should also check your toilet for leaks from the tank to the bowl. Put a few drops of food coloring in your tank and leave the toilet unused for at least 10-15 minutes. If the color starts to appear in the bowl, you have a leak. 
There are lots of great resources on how to fix leaks. Check out the Fix a Leak Week website for more information. 
If you need help fixing a leaky faucet, put a container under the drip in the meantime, and use that captured water to wash dishes or water your houseplants.
Clean-Up Litter
Litter is unsightly, and it ultimately ends up in our waterways, carried there by winds and heavy rains. You may be super responsible with your trash and recycling handling, but litter still gathers on our properties. 
A windy trash day or hungry wild animal can wreak havoc on otherwise well-intentioned bags and cans. Less responsible passersby might also leave their waste behind on your property. 
Spend a day sweeping your own front walk, cleaning litter from your curb or roadside, and walking your property or neighborhood looking for litter to clean-up. 
Be sure to follow common sense safety practices when handling trash, especially from unknown sources. 
Some great safety tips can be found on the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website. Whether you are picking up litter alone or in a group, the same guidelines apply.
Plant a Tree
Trees are great for clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat. They also add a really pretty element to your yard. Trees don’t have to be huge, mighty oaks. If you have a small yard, you can add smaller flowering trees or even shrubs that provide many of the same benefits. 
If you have a stream running through your property or as your property border, planting a tree along the stream banks provides an amazing benefit or helping to stabilize the banks and keep our local water clean. 
You don’t need to buy a large and expensive tree. Young tree seedlings and bareroot stock can be affordable alternatives. There are even trees that will root on their own from cuttings when planted in wet soils. You can learn more about that by checking out these tips on live staking.
Clear a Storm Drain
Are there storm drains on the street outside your home, or on your property somewhere? These drains are meant to carry rain and melting snow away from roads, sidewalks, parking lots and other surfaces where you wouldn’t want water pooling and flooding. 
Throughout the year, leaf litter and yard waste tends to gather on top of the drains and block storm water from entering them. This can lead to flash flooding, icy roads, and property damage. In addition to yard waste, this is another place that litter tends to gather. 
Take a broom or shovel and bucket out to your storm drain and clear that debris away to keep the drain functioning the way it should. 
Please note, these drains are only meant to collect storm water and they are not waste receptacles. Most of them drain directly to nearby streams, so any waste ends up right in our water and causes pollution.
Enjoy your celebrations!

(Reprinted from the latest Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for Extension newsletters.
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[Posted: March 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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