Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Fish-water for Fertilizer}

Whenever Frannie travels, like a few weeks ago for the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference, she makes sure follows her packing list very carefully.

Toothbrush: check.
Camera: check.
Fish tank and cleaner: check.

Frannie loves having clean water and a clean fish tank in her home, but she used to feel bad about wasting so much water. She then learned that she could use her dirty water to fertilize plants and gardens. Here’s how.

The water in the aquarium are rich in elements like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus and a compounds like ammonia from the fish food and excretions. If you look at the ingredients in plant fertilizers, you’ll see that they have those exact same elements.  If you regularly clean your fish tank, then that water dilutes those chemicals to appropriate dosages for your garden or house plants to handle.  In some cases, gardens that have been fertilized with aquarium water grown twice as large as those without!

Be careful, though, because you can’t always just pour dirty fish water on your plants.  For example, if you aren’t like Frannie and haven’t cleaned your tank in a very long time, you will need to add fresh water to the dirty water in order to dilute the chemicals a little more.  If you have treated your tank to adjust for pH or kill algae, you should not water any plants that you intend to eat.  Also, using water from a salt-water aquarium is more likely to hurt or kill your plants than it is to help them grow, especially if they are potted plants.

What other cool ways can you save water at home?  Share them with us at or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Friday, November 10, 2017

BLOG: 5 Ways to Save Water in Your Home

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day. For comparison's sake, the average person in the Netherlands uses only 27 gallons per day, and the average person in the African nation of Gambia uses only 1.17 gallons per day.

So how can we use less?

1. Take Shorter Showers
A quick shower uses 20-30 fewer gallons of water than a bath. Challenge yourself to take just showers of just 5 minutes or less, then challenge your family members to do the same. Use a shower timer to help keep the time down. 

2. Check the Plumbing
Proper maintenance is one of the most effective water savers. Faucet washers are inexpensive and take only a few minutes to replace. At home, check all water taps, hoses, and hose connections (even those that connect to dishwashers and washing machines) for leaks.

3. Don’t Let It Run
It’s simple really, before you turn on the tap, think of ways you can use less water to accomplish the same purpose. Always shut off the water when you brush your teeth, fill the sink when shaving instead of letting the water run, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running it til it gets cold.

4. Drip No More!
There is no such thing as a little drip. A leaky faucet can waste 10 gallons of water every day. On a toilet, an average leak can add up to 60 gallons per day! Replace worn sink washers or valve seals to get rid of the drip, and check for leaks in a toilet's tank or replace old toilets with low-flush units.

5. Fill It Up
Only run full loads in the dish and clothes washers. Get the most clean for the least amount of water!

For more ways to conserve water, download the free 30by30 water tracking app. Challenge yourself to reduce your water use, and tell us how you did.

Friday, November 3, 2017

BLOG: National Conference Highlights

Boise was amazing! We enjoyed the beautiful weather, vibrant downtown, informative and inspiring presentations, a ton of networking, and a chance to spend time with our groundwater family. Here are some of the highlights:
The Idaho state capitol, just a few blocks from the conference hotel.

River artwork on the outside of The Grove Hotel in downtown Boise.

Tuesday morning was bright and beautiful.

A group enjoyed an informative tour about the redevelopment and groundwater contamination concerns at one of Boise's Greenbelt parks.

The conference kicked off with a reception at the Boise WaterShed Environmental Education Center.

Members of The Groundwater Foundation's Board of Directors enjoyed the interactive artwork at the WaterShed Center.

The WaterShed Center features great interactive, hands-on exhibits about Boise's water.

Pat Mulroy's plenary address about groundwater in a climate-changed world started Wednesday's sessions.

Wednesday's program included numerous informative breakouts on technology, research, education, conservation, and groundwater management.

Groundwater Guardians traveled the room at lunch and shared their community's groundwater story.

Connections were made during multiple networking breaks.

Bill and Rosemarie Alley shared lessons learned about groundwater management from their book, High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World's Growing Dependence on Groundwater.

We had the opportunity to sample water from Orange County Water District's Groundwater Replenishment System. And guess what - it tasted like water!