Harpeth Conservancy hosted its third Conservation Conversation, a monthly online educational series with experts answering your questions, on Wednesday, May 24, 2020. This month’s topic
Home and Garden Tips
The water in your home once flowed in the river. The things we do around the house every day can affect our rivers and streams — the very water we drink. Remember, your rivers are closer than you think.
Become “RiverSmart” by following these easy tips below and in this Printable River Smart Tips Sheet.
- REPAIR LEAKY FAUCETS AND TOILETS
Leaky sinks and toilets can waste 50 gallons of water in one day, depleting our rivers. For a leaky faucet, look for a faulty o-ring or valve seat. Toilet leaks aren’t always so obvious. Try pouring colored liquid into the tank. If after 15 minutes you see dye in the bowl, you may need to replace the flapper.
- TURN OFF THE WATER WHEN BRUSHING YOUR TEETH OR WASHING DISHES
You can save 3-5 gallons a day. Fill up the sink when washing vegetables or doing a load of dishes. It’s a small change that will make a big difference.
- RUN WASHERS ONLY WHEN FULL
You can save nearly 300-800 gallons of water each month.
- DISPOSE OF HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS SAFELY
Many cleaning products found in our homes and garages are too dangerous to be disposed of in the trash or down the drain. Anything labeled “Poison” or “Danger” should be taken to your local hazardous waste center. Use water-based paints and wipe off excess paint with a paper towel before rinsing your brush.
- SWEEP THE DRIVEWAY INSTEAD OF RINSING IT
Running the hose for 15 minutes can use 150 gallons of water. Water run-off from our driveways or sidewalks carries contaminants, such as dirt, motor oil, fertilizers and animal wastes into our rivers.
- INSTALL LOW-FLOW SHOWERHEADS AND WATER-SAVING TOILETS
An outdated showerhead wastes 20 gallons day or 7,300 gallons a year – per shower! An average family of four can save 14,000-17,000 gallons of water a year by installing high-efficiency showerheads.
- FIX CAR LEAKS PROMPTLY
Leaky cars leave motor oil and other fluids on our streets and driveways. When it rains, these contaminants are washed into our rivers. Preventing polluted run-off will help keep our rivers and drinking water safe.
- DISPOSE OF MOTOR OIL SAFELY
One quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of river water. Never pour leftover oil down a storm drain or into the trash – instead, drop it off at your local hazardous waste center.
- WATER YARDS IN THE MORNING OR EVENING
Water evaporates quickly during the middle of the day. Lawns only need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Watering less creates deeper, stronger roots and a healthier lawn. You could try letting the lawn go brown, as nature intended during summer months. Another option is to plant native plants or incorporate xeriscaping techniques that require less water altogether.
- STRIVE TO USE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
Choose safer, multi-purpose cleaners labeled “environmentally friendly”. Avoid chlorine, phosphate products and solvents like paint thinner.
- Visit eartheasy.com to find recipes for inexpensive, safe alternatives to make at home.
- Learn Where to Recycle In and Around Nashville
- Learn to Recycle Right!
DO MORE TO EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS ON NON-POINT SOURCE POLLUTION
Video about where your drinking water comes from:
RiverSmart Gardening Tips:
If you love a yard full of beautiful flowers and lush landscaping, you can have it and conserve water too. It’s easy! Be RiverSmart about the things you do in your yard by following these easy tips below and in this Printable River Smart Gardening Tips Sheet
- Water your lawn and garden only in the morning or evening. Water evaporates quickly during the middle of the day, and watering less creates deeper, stronger roots and a healthier lawn. Remember a lawn only needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.
- Landscape with native plants, instead of grass, to reduce your yard’s water needs. Native plants require much less water, as they have adapted to both the climate and soil. They also attract birds and butterflies.
- Use mulch around your plants and shrubs. Mulch helps to lock in moisture and slow water evaporation and keeps roots cooler. Eliminate or minimize pesticide, pull those pesky weeds instead! By catching weeds when they first appear, it reduces the need for harsh chemicals down the line, which saves time and money.
- Pesticides, including herbicides, can be dangerous to people, pets and wildlife. Consider eliminating or reducing pesticide use or using organic alternatives. When you do use pesticides, use them only as directed on the package. Excessive use does not benefit plants and the excess chemicals wash downstream when it rains, which poses a danger to invertebrates in our rivers and creeks.
- Collect water in rain barrels throughout the year. Water collected in rain barrels can be used throughout the dry months to water your garden.
- Reduce the area you mow to use less fuel, improve air quality, and reduce noise pollution. Plant non-mowed areas with native trees, shrubs, flowers, and prairie grasses to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality via improved filtration and infiltration of stormwater runoff. You can also consider converting portions of your yard into flower or vegetable gardens.
- Try a push mower if you have a smaller yard. A modern push mower is easy to operate and costs less to own and maintain. It’s much better for the environment, and leftover grass clippings make excellent mulch for your yard.
- Start a compost pile so you can recycle yard debris and create an excellent source of fertilizer and mulch at the same time.
- Select porous products for your driveway, yard, and landscaping. Surfaces such as asphalt and concrete prevent water from seeping into the ground, instead of forcing the water to flow along the surface picking up dirt and contaminants, which flow into our storm drains and eventually our rivers. Consider using porous asphalt, bricks, stones and cinder blocks, which allow water to seep into the ground around them.
- Plant trees in your yards, trees prevent soil erosion and filter out pollutants carried by water run-off. Trees planted nearby a river provide crucial habitat for birds and shade for fish.
- Plan your garden beforehand so you can save work and water in the future. Plants with similar needs for sun, soil, and water should be placed in the same area.
- Avoid landscaping plastic. Plastic ground covers limit the absorption of water into the soil, and extra water runs off our yards carrying dirt and pollutants back into our rivers and streams. Natural ground covers can reduce soil loss and help prevent weeds.
- If you are interrupted or finished watering, remember to turn off the hose. A 1/2″ hose left running wastes nearly 1,500 gallons per hour! Consider using a nozzle that automatically shuts off when not in use.
- Stabilize your soil. Dirt is one of the top three river pollutants. Soil run-off from our gardens ends up in our rivers and streams and can choke fish and other aquatic life.
- Dispose of chemicals properly. Take empty fertilizer, herbicide and other chemical containers to your local hazardous waste center. Do not pour leftovers down the drain or in the street. Disposed of improperly, harsh chemicals can end up in our rivers and streams.
Maintenance for Yard Trees by TN Department of Agriculture
Watch this video of Science Director Ryan Jackwood and AmeriCorps member Meriweather Bean as they present the work of Harpeth Conservancy to improve water quality
Traffic isn’t the only major issue with the rapid growth across Middle TN. A major hidden and smelly public health risk is untreated sewage that
“The risk of losing Middle Tennessee’s iconic rural lands, agricultural production, and scenic landscapes is very real and is affecting all drinking water supplies and