FEWER BUGS AND WEEDS

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill or repel pests. Pesticides include herbicides (Which kill plants), insecticides (which kill insects) and fungicides (which kill fungi).

The pesticides used in a yard are poisons and may pose a health threat to the person applying them if not handled carefully. They also pose a threat to animals, plants, and insects beyond the intended pests. Honeybees are an example of non-target organisms. They are very susceptible to many household pesticides such as carbaryl (sevin) and chlorpyrifos. Other non-targets include ladybird beetles, which are natural biological pest controls, and fish, which can suffer direct poisoning from the household insecticides, permethrin, resmethrin, pyrethrin, and rotenone washed into a stream or lake. Studies have detected pesticides in 97% of urban stream water samples. Pesticides have been linked to hormonal imbalances in fish.

Until recently, groundwater was thought to be immune from the many chemicals used on lawns and gardens. However, contamination may occur when polluted surface water moves through the soil to the water table.

Integrated Pest Management

When we see weeds or insects invading our favorite plants, our first response is often to apply a pesticide. Some people even apply a pesticide to prevent invasions by pests. Both of these automatic responses lead to unnecessary pesticide use. A better approach is Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Cultural Control

Cultural pest control methods attempt to create optimal growing conditions for plans and unfavorable conditions for pests. Methods include:

For Gardens

  • Select disease-resistant varieties of plants.
  • Plant varieties adapted to the geographic and soil conditions.
  • Maintain a rich, fertile soil, with the proper pH for the plants being grown.
  • Rotate plants to disrupt the life cycle of pests (this is called crop rotation).
  • Plant and harvest early to promote healthier, stronger plants and avoid peak insect populations.
  • Remove pest-infected plant residue in the fall.
  • Plant a wide variety of crops to reduce potential pest problems.
  • Evaluate the availability of sunlight and water. Most garden plants need plenty of each to help control pest problems.

For Lawns

Proper mowing heights are important. Set the mower to cut at 3 inches or higher. Mow often, each time the grass reaches 4 inches. (It’s important not to cut more than one-third of the height.) On troublesome spots, remember that improper light, moisture or soil conditions discourage good turf. Use of shade-tolerant grasses, bringing in topsoil, or switching to alternative ground covers may be the answer.

Biological Control

Numerous organisms feed upon or infect insect pests. These biological controls frequently prevent the insect pollution from reaching damaging levels. Three types of natural enemies are:

  • Predators – Such as ladybird beetles, ground beetles and birds that consume many pests in their lifetime.
  • Parasites – such as the trichogamma wasp, which will generally consume one individual insect pest during its own lifetime.
  • Pathogens – such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses which infect many insect pests simultaneously.
  • Minimizing the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens allows these natural enemies to thrive, helping to keep pest populations in control.

Source: Yard Care And The Environment by the West Valley City Storm Water Utility

Resources: What are pesticides?PesticidesHousehold Hazardous WasteStormwater Runoff & PesticidesPesticides, Herbicides, & StormwaterStormwater Management: Pesticide Use in the Lawn and Garden

GREENER LAWNS, CLEANER WATERS

Nearly everyone appreciates a well cared for lawn. To achieve the healthiest green lawn, many people turn to chemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, lawn fertilizers pose several risks to human health and water quality.

Hazardous chemicals in fertilizers include ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, pesticides and potassium chloride. Fertilizers can be corrosive to skin, eyes and mucous membranes and can potentially affect water quality.

Fertilizer Use

When using fertilizers, read labels carefully to ensure that you are properly protected and that you use the right amount of fertilizer for your lawn. Don’t fertilize before predicted heavy rain and be careful along lawn edges. Fertilizer left on sidewalks and driveways can easily be washed into storm water.

It is suggested that slow-release fertilizer is less-hazardous. Look for bags that have the word “WIN” on them. This indicates that the fertilizer contains water insoluble nitrogen.

Leftover Fertilizer

If you have fertilizer left over, store it in a sealed and labeled plastic bag and keep it away from children, pets and water.

If you don’t want to store it, it is best to find someone who can use it.

Disposal

Empty fertilizer bags that do not contain pesticides and weed killers can be disposed of in the garbage. If the fertilizer contains pesticide, please follow directions under “pesticides” on your product’s label to dispose of properly.

If you can’t find any way of using up the product, you may dispose of it by placing it in a heavy duty plastic bag. Please call the North Pointe Solid Waste District at 801-225-8538 and let them know you are bringing in fertilizer. This makes sure the fertilizer is handled safely. Be aware that there are minimal charges associated with disposal at the solid waste district.

Reducing The Need For Fertilizer

You can reduce the amount of fertilizer you need by frequently mowing your lawn with a mulching mower to a height of three inches or higher, and leaving the clippings on the lawn.

Using compost and soil amendments also reduces the need for fertilizer. A guide to composting is available in PDF format at the Utah State University extension website at http://www.extension.usu.edu/publica/gardpubs/compos01.pdf. Or you can call them at 370-8460 with questions about lawn and garden care.

Source: Eliminating Household Hazardous Waste. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Boise, Idaho. 1999. Pp 12-13.

ANNUAL HYDRANT FLUSH

As part of critical maintenance to the water system, the City of Orem is planning to flush fire hydrants beginning the week of March 23, weather permitting. This year’s flushing area will be all neighborhoods east of State Street. 

Flushing the system has numerous benefits including:

1.     Pipe Cleaning – the higher velocities clean the walls of the pipe.

2.     Water Circulation – the water at dead-end lines and cul-de-sacs is flushed out.

3.     Valve Exercising – both the valves in the road and on the fire hydrant need to be turned so, over time, they don’t get stuck.

4.     System Check – just like the body needs a physical check-up, flushing the system is like putting the body on a treadmill and monitoring the vital signs.

Flushing the system can cause some temporary inconveniences of low water pressure or slightly discolored water.  The discolored water poses no health risk and is part of the process to clean out sediment in the water lines.  If you see crews flushing hydrants in your neighborhood, refrain from using water in your home until after the process is complete (usually 15 or 30 minutes).  After they leave, turn a cold water tap on for a few minutes to clear out any possible remaining sediment in your own line.

For the safety of both residents and City workers, we ask for the public’s help by allowing full access to fire hydrants.  Please move parked vehicles away from hydrants and try to keep children at a safe distance.

Even though water is a precious resource and flushing may appear to wastewater, please be assured we are committed to conserving water, energy, and labor by flushing no more than necessary. The personnel flushing fire hydrants are trained in proven water system maintenance practices. Thank you for your cooperation with this project. If you have questions or concerns, please call the Department of Public Works Water Section at 229-7500.

WINTER TIPS FOR CLEAN WATER

The City has had a long-standing relationship with the Utah County Stormwater Coalition. They produced the following article for us to pass along to our residents.

Deicers lower the melting point of ice to help remove ice and snow from pavement. Sodium chloride (rock salt) is the most common product because it’s effective and cheap. However, it is highly corrosive and ecologically damaging. Some deicers are significant sources of phosphorous. Here are some ways to help keep our water supply cleaner: 

  • Be sure to keep deicers in a covered area to prevent runoff to the storm system and contamination of ground water.
  • Always apply deicing products according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Using the old-fashioned approach of a shovel means eliminating ice and snow without harmful chemicals and with the added benefit of physical exercise.

Why Does It Matter?

Polluted water that enters your storm drain (the grate in the street curb that collects water runoff) does not get treated, and instead flows directly into local water bodies where it can harm aquatic life and habitats, contaminate drinking water supplies and recreational waterways, and lessen aesthetic value.

WHAT’S UP WITH THE BLOOMIN’ LAKE?

The library has booked a presentation that we are very excited about. You may remember the algae blooms that have occurred in recent summers on Utah Lake. A professor at UVU, Dr. Kevin Shurtleff will be presenting some of his research on harmful algal blooms. Come join him at 7 pm on Thursday, February 22 in the Storytelling Wing of the Library. I am including the abstract Dr. Shurtleff submitted about his presentation below. Thanks for your interest.

“Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a serious environmental issue worldwide. HABs occur when water conditions (temperature, solar insolation, nutrients) foster rapid growth of cyanobacteria (blue green algae) and other microalgae. When microalgae reach high concentrations, incoming sunlight is blocked, preventing photosynthesis. This results in microalgae death, releasing endotoxins that contaminate the water. The purpose of the microalgae harvesting project at Utah Valley University is to design and build a direct microalgae harvesting boat that can be deployed on Utah to prevent future HABs, reduce nutrient load in the Lake, and ultimately produce a carbon-neutral biofuel.

Schematic diagram of full-scale, direct, microalgae harvesting boat deployed on a lake. Courtesy of Kevin Shurtleff

“My research students and I have designed, built, and tested five lab-scale, microalgae harvesting technologies. Each of these technologies required modification to work in a floating harvester configuration. We tested the effectiveness of each technology at removing low concentrations of microalgae from water, collection efficiency over time, and capital and operating costs. The test results enabled us to determine the technology best suited for full-scale operation. We are currently designing and building a full scale, microalgae harvesting boat, implementing the selected harvesting technology. The goal is to deploy the prototype microalgae harvester on Utah Lake in June of 2018.”

Also here is a biographical sketch about Dr. Shurtleff:

“Dr. Shurtleff received a PhD in physical chemistry from Brigham Young University and a Masters of Business Administration from the Marriott School. He has been an assistant professor of chemistry at Utah Valley University for 6 years. In that time, he has mentored over 58 students as they performed research on recycling used motor oil, renewable, wind, solar, and river compressed air electricity generation, and now microalgae harvesting and clean air technologies. Before UVU, he spent 25 years in industry, taking technologies from the laboratory into the marketplace. He has been working in energy for the past 20 years. Dr. Shurtleff is a serial entrepreneur. He has started five companies based on technologies he developed: MicromistNOW – fast inhalable products, Mountain West Energy – enhanced oil recovery, Trulite – hydrogen fuel source, Synexus – portable, integrated fuel cell system, and Peak Semiconductor – gallium arsenide crystal growth. He is married to Jane Loftus, a UVU professor of math. He has 7 adult children, and 6.5 grandchildren. He has lived in Orem for the past 25 years.”

KEEPING DUMPSTER AREAS CLEAN

An incident in our Public Works yard reminded us of the importance of keeping our dumpster areas clean. If you have a dumpster at your business or apartment building, you may want to take heed of this anecdote.

On Monday, February 5, a visual inspection of our yard showed that someone had tried to dispose of a bag of lime (crushed limestone) in one of our dumpsters, but the bag’s contents didn’t all make it into the dumpster. Lime has many uses, but it has the effect of altering the pH of water it comes in contact with, making water more alkaline than natural. This incident served as a quick reminder to regularly check dumpster areas for messes. We were able to get the powder swept up quickly.

While we strive to have a yard that is clean and organized at all times, sometimes things happen. The important thing is to respond to a potentially negative situation quickly and correctly. We are so glad that the lime could be contained and cleaned up.

An incident in our Public Works yard reminded us of the importance of keeping our dumpster areas clean. If you have a dumpster at your business or apartment building, you may want to take heed of this anecdote.

On Monday, February 5, a visual inspection of our yard showed that someone had tried to dispose of a bag of lime (crushed limestone) in one of our dumpsters, but the bag’s contents didn’t all make it into the dumpster. Lime has many uses, but it has the effect of altering the pH of water it comes in contact with, making water more alkaline than natural. This incident served as a quick reminder to regularly check dumpster areas for messes. We were able to get the powder swept up quickly.

While we strive to have a yard that is clean and organized at all times, sometimes things happen. The important thing is to respond to a potentially negative situation quickly and correctly. We are so glad that the lime could be contained and cleaned up.

What is there that might be making the area around your dumpster dirty? Take a few minutes this week and make sure the debris on your property is cleaned up. This will make a positive impact on tenants and customers that rely on your dumpster to be a safe place to get rid of their solid wastes.

PROTECTING THE PROVO RIVER

Winding southwesterly from Trail Lake in the High Uintas to Utah Lake just downstream of Orem, Provo River is one of the area’s natural wonders. It is home to three Blue Ribbon Fisheries between Jordanelle Reservoir and Provo Canyon. These sites are great locations for fly fishing and yield brown trout and other notable fishes in abundance.

Its banks also provide a multitude of opportunities for running hiking, and biking, especially along paved trails from Utah Lake to Vivian Park and in Midway in the Heber Valley.

The Provo River is also classified as a high quality water by the State of Utah. It is a source of drinking water for many municipalities. With a little treatment, the water from the river is safe for consumption by residents in many cities, including Orem.

In 1996, the City of Orem established the storm water utility. This entity was formed to establish the means to handle storm water runoff through a system of conveyances and sumps. This system is not only meant to dissipate the quantity of storm water runoff from rainstorms and snow melt, it is also in place to minimize the negative impacts to water bodies from harmful pollutants that can accompany storm water flows.

For these reasons and more, the Provo River deserves protection, Our City Storm Water Utility has included several items in our Storm Water Management Plan that aim at keeping the Provo River in good shape. Construction sites within 500 feet of the river are inspected more frequently. Also all storm water outfalls that drain into the Provo River are inspected annually and sampled regularly to confirm that discharges are as clean as they can be. These areas close to the Provo River are also included in our high priority area for illicit discharge detection activities.

All in all, we strive to keep the River clean. If you see something that could be a hazard or could endanger the quality of the water in the Provo River, give us a call or send us an email. We want to preserve the Provo River as a safe source water and a great location for fishing, tubing, walking, running and biking.

To learn more, visit any of these:
• https://utah.com/fishing/provo-river
• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provo_River
• https://wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots/brwaterbody.php?id=31
• https://www.usbr.gov/projects/index.php?id=384

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT BLOW LEAVES INTO THE STREET!

It’s fall and we have all enjoyed the changing colors of trees for this year. Now is the time to deal with everything that has fallen as the trees get ready for winter. We have all probably observed someone who decided to clear their lawn by blowing leaves, grass clippings or other debris into the street, rather than bagging it and throwing it away in their green waste can. We came across a situation yesterday that perfectly shows why you shouldn’t blow your autumn leaves into the street. As you can see the leaves are several inches thick and the pile extends almost out into the driving lanes. Here are some reasons why this is not the best practice for dealing with yard wastes.

  1. The leaves are a safety hazard. Because there is no way of knowing the road conditions under the leaves, bicyclists that use this route are forced to go out into the driving lanes to pass this obstacle.
  2. The leaves can block storm drains. Try watching a storm drain inlet covered in leaves in a rain storm. It only takes a few leaves to back up the water into a large puddle. This creates nuisance flooding and can potentially cause an additional safety hazard. It can even lead to property damage.
  3. Water quality can also be affected by the accumulation of decayed leaves in storm drains. Storm water is not treated before it is discharged into Utah Lake, the Provo River or our groundwater, so the concentration of nutrients in the leaves have the potential to contribute to algae blooms next summer.

Keeping these things in mind, we encourage you to clean up your leaves by bagging them and putting them in your green waste can. If they don’t fit, you can take them to the North Pointe Solid Waste Facility.

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