When it comes to weather, 2018 sure has been an unusual year with more than 50 inches of rain. We all know that much colder temperatures and wintry forms of precipitation are coming. Here are some ways to stay safe and cope with whatever Old Man Winter sends our way.
• Shovel snow before it turns to ice. This lessens the need for deicing chemicals. It is also a great way to work off those extra holiday calories. Before you start, please check out this website on snow shoveling safety at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/snow/snow-shoveling-safety.
• Shovel the snow onto non-paved surfaces such as garden beds and grassy areas. As the snow melts, it will soak into the soil rather than flow directly into the nearest storm drain or road ditch and then into the nearest stream.
• Sand, sawdust, and kitty litter have their place in providing traction under wintry conditions. After snowmelt, sweep up residues to prevent them from washing into storm drains and road ditches.
• If the sun should make its appearance, let it do its job. The sun is free, environmentally friendly, and I for one welcome its appearance anytime in Ohio!
For those times when you need to salt, use the right S.A.L.T.: the right stuff, in the right amount, in the right location, and at the right time.
The right Stuff. Sodium chloride, what we usually refer to as road salt, only works above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Under colder conditions you will need to switch to a different ice melting product designed to work at much lower temperatures. Other options may include calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride. All have different temperature ranges under which they are effective. Some of these options are friendlier to your concrete, landscape plants and trees, and pets than others.
The right Amount. Read the directions! Using more product doesn’t improve or speed up the ice melting process. A great way to spread is to figure that a 12 ounce coffee cup full of ice melt product is enough to cover about 10 sidewalk squares. There should be about three inches between granules.
The right Location. According to the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, one teaspoon of salt pollutes five gallons of water forever. Salt should only be used on your sidewalks and driveways when absolutely necessary. Keep all products away from your flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees, storm drains and road ditches.
The right Time. All of these ice melt products work best when applied before the snow falls or right after snow is removed from your driveway or sidewalk. Do not apply when rain is forecasted as the product will wash away into the nearest storm drain or road ditch and from there to the nearest stream.
To learn more about keeping you and your family safe and Ohio’s waterbodies clean this winter, download this brochure entitled “Fight Snow and Ice, Pollution-Free” at www.mwmo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/mwmo-smart-salting-2018.pdf.
The latest in conservation programs can be found on our website at www.delawareswcd.org or by calling us at 740-368-1921. Stay tuned for information about our annual tree and shrub sale which will begin in late January.
Funding available for watershed conservation
Agricultural producers have an incentive to manage their operations with a conservation outlook since their livelihood depends on the quality of the soil and water they use to produce the food, fiber, forage, and fuel for the world’s growing population.
The Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) announces new funding available for the Upper Big Walnut Creek Watershed through the Promoting Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Phosphorus Project. Delaware SWCD and other partners received project funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
RCPP is a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program that encourages partners to join efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources. Through the program, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas.
Technical and financial assistance will be available through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to help improve water quality in the Upper Big Walnut Creek Watershed. This watershed encompasses parts of Delaware, Knox, Licking and Morrow counties, and drains into Hoover Reservoir, one of the drinking water supplies for the city of Columbus.
A special sign-up is now open through Jan. 18, 2019, for producers in the Upper Big Walnut Creek Watershed who wish to implement phosphorus reducing best management practices. The RCPP Promoting Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Phosphorus Project is a collaborative effort amongst Delaware, Knox, Licking and Morrow SWCDs. Additional support comes from the Upper Big Walnut Creek Water Quality Partnership whose members are focused on improving the water quality of the creek and its tributaries through effective conservation practices, while sustaining profitable agriculture within the watershed.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps eligible farmers protect local natural resources, while promoting agricultural production. Practices may include cover crops, field borders, filter strips, conservation cover, reduced tillage and residue management, structures for water control, nutrient management, drainage water management, conservation crop rotation, underground outlets for water quality, grass waterways, grade stabilization structures, and amending soil properties with gypsiferous products.
For information on the Upper Big Walnut Creek Watershed and the special EQIP program, please contact your local USDA Service Center at 740-362-4011.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.