This week is the Governor's Water Action Week.
Now more than ever, Minnesotans understand how important it is to protect and conserve our water resources. No matter who you are or where you live, there are many ways you can help. Just start by doing one thing for our water. Small changes can make a big difference!
Water your lawn early in the morning, and don't water your sidewalk and driveway. Shut your sprinkler off if it's raining (make sure the rain sensors are working if you have them), and set the timer. Consider putting a rain barrel under your downspout to capture water, so you can use it later.
Off with your faucets
Turn the faucet off when you're brushing your teeth. Water comes out of the average faucet at 2 gallons per minute; you can save 4 gallons of water by just turning off the tap. Start a wash cycle only when you have a full load of dishes or clothes. Consider reusing towels instead of just using them once.
Don't farm naked
By reducing tillage and planting cover crops, farmers can build healthy soil that results in better crops and cleaner water. The plant cover will reduce runoff from the field and in turn reduce sediment and excess nutrients from going into streams.
Mind the gutter
Keep your leaves and grass clippings out of the street, or they will wash into the storm drain and eventually into our lakes and rivers. Phosphorus from leaves and grass creates green slime in the lakes from algae growth.
Maintain your septic system — especially if you have a house on a lake. Do you really want to be swimming in sewage? A poorly functioning septic system may not remove pathogens, nutrients, and other chemicals from the used water before it enters our groundwater or lakes.
Buffer your shoreline
Natural shorelines of perennial vegetation help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment by slowing runoff and trapping sediment. The vegetation absorbs pollutants, preventing them from entering the water supply. More buffers are needed all around Minnesota, from lakeshores and river banks to water running through farm fields.
Don't be a drip
At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons in a year, and a running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day. Most leaks are easily repaired and can mean big savings. For even more savings, consider installing high efficiency fixtures and appliances.
Keep it clean
Modern car washes use a lot less water per vehicle and recycle their water. Plus all that dirty, soapy water doesn't end up running out of your driveway, down the stormdrain, and into some unlucky lake, stream, or wetland. Spoil yourself and your car by taking a trip to the car wash.
Go on a low nitrogen diet
Use as little nitrogen fertilizer on lawns and fields as possible. More is not always better and may mean less cash in your wallet. Learn more about reducing nitrogen fertilizer use by contacting your Soil and Water Conservation District Office.
Contact your elected officials – city, county, state and federal – and let them know clean water is important to you. Volunteer to monitor a lake or stream, join a local lake association, or attend your local watershed district meetings. Get involved. Healthy water is connected to economic opportunities and healthy communities.