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March 2019 Water ConservationMarch 2019 water water management for a sustainable future conservation Lake Oswegowww.lowaterconservation.com Water Conservation A New Twist Kevin McCaleb, Water Conservation Coordinator 503-675-3747 kmccaleb@lakeoswego.city Last year, Lake Oswego’s Water Conservation Program was expanded to begin offering services to City of Tigard water customers through the Lake Oswego - Tigard Water Partnership. As part of that expansion, our Water Conservation newsletter will now be sent to Tigard’s customers. Those of us that have regularly gotten the newsletter will see a few minor changes in the layout and the sequencing of the mailings. Most prominent will be the Lake Oswego - Tigard Water Partnership logo and the references to Tigard within the text. Because Lake Oswego and Tigard share a common water supply - the Clackamas River - and treatment system, the information in the newsletter is relevant to citizens of both cities. With the startup of the new Lake Oswego -Tigard Partnership Water Treatment Plant just over one year ago. our two communities committed to working together on water supply, treatment, water quality and water conservation issues. Working together to protect and conserve our precious water resource will ensure that the Clackamas can reliably supply water to our communities for generations to come. So, welcome Tigard water customers! Let’s get started. Absent Monarch Summer As a kid growing up in eastern Washington every summer, the air would be teeming with large orange butterflies. All summer long I would see these orange beauties flitting about our farm, landing on flowers. Every year we would look forward to seeing them. There was something magic about their appearance, anticipated; worrisome when they showed up late or were light in numbers. Of course, back then I knew nothing about their life cycle, the distance they traveled or the trials they endured to survive. I only knew that they, like the spring flowers, hot days and fishing trips, were a part of summer. Sadly, in the case of the Monarchs, there is fear that these magnificent creatures may be on a path to extinction - at least for the western branch of the family. Counts made in Southern California, where the Western Monarch migrates to and from every year, were frighteningly low this year. Since those counts began in the 1980’s, the population of over-wintering Monarchs has declined from 4.5 million to a mere 28,429 this year at those same sites. Based on those counts, today only one butterfly exists for every 160 previously counted. That is more than a 99% reduction in population. Decline is attributed to pesticide use and the eradication of milkweed, which is the only plant that the caterpillars can survive on. Without milkweed, they die. Let’s do our part this year to help save these icons of summer. Use some space on your patio or in your garden and specifically plant some milkweed plants. It’s like the Field of Dreams quote: “If you build it, they will come.” For more information on Monarchs, please visit: • Xerces Society: https://xerces.org • Monarch Joint Venture : https://monarchjointventure.org/ images/uploads/documents/Oe_fact_sheet.pdf To Do List March: • Planting starts: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries beets, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, onions, peas etc. • Aerate lawns and add soil amendments: Rake up and remove the plugs and consider adding compost to enhance drainage and nutrient exchange to the roots. • Test your soils: Determine what if any supplements are needed. The City of Lake Oswego offers testing kits to its water customers for free at the reception desk on the third floor of City Hall • Clean up and tune up: Prune Trees and shrubs. Prep power equipment, edger, mower, weed eater etc. Prep hand tools. Sharpen blades etc. Yard clean up and planting area prep • Lawn seeding: Hand water if needed. Not time to start your sprinklers yet! April: • Planting starts: carrots, parsley, cabbage cauliflower, celery leeks etc. • Weed control: Pulling weeds is the best and least toxic of all weed control, and for some, quite therapeutic. There are also hundreds of sites on line that have recipes for homemade and organic herbicides. If you must use a chemical please do so responsibly. • Pest control: Plant select herbs and flowers in and around your shrubs and garden areas to help control insects and minimize the necessity to use chemicals. Dill, chives, garlic, leeks, shallots, petunias, nasturtiums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, alliums and many, more plants are beneficial in deterring insects. • Backflow assembly test: This is required annually to be done by a certified technician and filed with the City. For more information: Lake Oswego customers call 503-635-0280 or visit www.lakeoswego.city/ publicworks/backflow-and-cross-connection-control-program; Tigard customers call 503-718-2603 or email hung@tigard-or.gov. • Irrigation system tune up: Start up your sprinklers and check for winter damage. Turn on your water, and let the system fill. Check for leaks, broken lines, broken risers and heads. Adjust your sprinklers so that they are not spraying on the sidewalks, driveways or into the street. • Check controller: Operating correctly. All of the buttons and displays are working properly. Check that all valves turn on and turn off correctly. • Make repairs: If you find leaks or broken sprinklers, now is the time to repair them. • Install a rain sensor: Purchase for Lake Oswego customers only at City Hall, third floor reception desk - $5 each. • Turn controller off: Too early to start irrigating regularly. The Clackamas River For those curious to learn about the Clackamas River and its influence on our two cities and the region, take a look at a short video on the history and story of the river. The video can be found on the City of Lake Oswego’s Conservation website or at www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJDFWk_MPPc. Monarch Butterfly water water management for a sustainable future conservation Lake OswegoCity of Lake Oswego 380 A Avenue, PO Box 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 General Information: 503-635-0270 Water Conservation Information: 503-675-3747 www.lowaterconservation.com Understanding the numbers on a fertilizer bag can help you determine what kind to buy to supply needed nutrients for your garden or landscape plants. Recommendations that are provided with soil test results will give you the ratios of nutrients to use, but they don't always correspond to an actual fertilizer you can buy. (Source: www.canr.msu.edu/news/demystifying- fertilizer-labels-for-home-gardeners) Plant Du Jour Looking to lend a hand to our native pollinators and migrating monarchs? Here is an option that will works well. Milkweed (Asclepias Speciosa) Milkweed is an easy plant to establish in gardens or containers and it is the only plant that a Monarch butterfly larva can eat – which means it is the only plant upon which they will lay their eggs. Plant Specs: • Perennial: USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b (lows -39.9 °C or -40 °F) • Native to Oregon • Full or almost full sun • Height: 2 to 6 feet • Spacing: 2 to 3 ft • Flowers: 4-5″ clusters of pinkish/purple fragrant blooms • Blooms from summer to fall • Large, thick leaves can sustain more caterpillars • Monarchs use as a nectar source and host plant • Low toxicity milkweed • Easy to start from milkweed seeds • Sweet fragrant blossoms • Long bloom period 2-3 months • Does not transplant easily because of long fragile taproot • Sometimes nibbled by rabbits and deer • Can spread through underground rhizomes; best if planted in containers or pots. • Starts and seeds are readily available at local nurseries. Growing Tips: • Grows more vigorously in moist soil, but it’s also drought tolerant • Doesn’t need a lot of special care • If you don’t want additional seedlings next spring, simply cut off the seed pods before they pop open or bind them shut with twist ties or rubber bands if you want to collect showy milkweed seeds Asclepias speciosa also attracts checkerspots, hairstreaks, honeybees, hummingbirds, painted lady butterflies, pale swallowtails, sphinx moths, queens, tiger swallow tails, variegated fritillaries and more. Freshly emerged from their chrysalises, adult monarch butterflies sip nectar from the flowers of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). Photo by Beth Waterbury. To Test or Not to Test There are five major processes that happen to applied fertilizer. 1. It is taken up by the crop and used to build healthy plants with vigorous blooms and vibrant fruits and vegetables. 2. It reacts with soil minerals and organic matter to become part of the soil reserve and continuous source of nutrients for strength and resistance to pests and diseases. 3. It can leach from the root zone with water and filter down into the ground water. Excessive watering applies water below the root zone of the plant. Irrigation that applies water to the landscape at depth that cannot be reached by the roots is wasted. When we have a habit of over-watering and we continually inundate soils with water, gravity can and will move that excess water down and into our aquifers; carrying with it lots of the amendments that were watered into the soil from above. Nitrogen pollution in groundwater can pose a serious health risk to humans if it is consumed by households that use well water. 4. It can be lost to the atmosphere as a gas. As a pollutant entering the atmosphere it may be even more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Any fertilizer in the soil that is not consumed by plants becomes food for microbes. While consuming the excess nitrogen in the soil, those same microbes release nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. The percentage of gas released by these microbes has been researched and the estimate of gas released is about 1.75 kg to 5 kg of gas per 100 kg of soil. (A kilogram kg =2.2 pounds) Here is some good reading on the subject: • UC Berkeley News: www.news.berkeley.edu/2012/04/02/ fertilizer-use-responsible-for-increase-in-nitrous-oxide-in- atmosphere/ • ScienceNews: www.sciencenews.org/article/fertilizer-produces- far-more-greenhouse-gas-expected 5. It can move from the field through soil erosion and water runoff, ending up in lakes and streams fueling algae growths that can eliminate oxygen in the water. This process is called eutrophication and it is caused by decaying algae and phytoplankton. When excessive nutrients are introduced into a body of water (ocean, lake or stream) it creates an environment that is favorable to algae. They (algae) can rapidly reproduce. If conditions are right, the population can double in eight hours and, with a lifespan of two or three days, colonies can explode in size rapidly. This can create what is known as a Dead Zone, or oxygen deprived area. This loss of oxygen in water is called hypoxia. The largest Dead Zone in the U.S. is in the Gulf of Mexico and covers an area about the size of New Jersey (8,000 sq. miles) In Oregon we have several reoccurring Dead Zones along the coast that have been responsible for large losses of Dungeness crabs, shell fish and other marine life. These last three processes of applied fertilizer represent the most potentially damaging consequences of incorrect usage and they are also, ironically, probably the easiest to correct or at least minimize. By testing your soil you can determine what if any nutrients your lawn or gardens might need. Giving your plants what they need rather than what you think they might need will go a long way to help eliminate the excesses. By actively monitoring and maintaining your irrigation system and using water responsibly, run off and leaching can be minimized. Soil Testing should be done at the beginning of the season, mid or peak period and again in the fall. Home soil testing kits are accurate, inexpensive and easy to use. The City of Lake Oswego provides soil testing kits for free at the reception desk on the 3rd floor of City Hall. Water audits will begin in May and are offered to both the City of Tigard and Lake Oswego water customers for free. Audits are designed to assess how efficiently you are using your water and how well your equipment is functioning. For more information about a water audit for your residence or business, call Kevin at 503-675-3747. Not sure how much to water? Let the Regional Water Providers Consortium take the guess work out of it for you. Sign up to receive the Weekly Watering Number! The Weekly Watering Number is the amount of water in inches that your lawn will need that week. You can also use the Weekly Watering Number for watering other types of plants, by using these general guidelines: • Shrubs: 50% of the Weekly Watering Number • Perennials: 50% of the Weekly Watering Number • Vegetables: 75% of the Weekly Watering Number (new starts may require more water) • Trees: Newly planted trees need regular watering for up to the first couple of years, while established trees may need a deep soak or two in summer. Sign up to receive the Weekly Watering Number by email each Thursday, April - September, go to www.regionalh2o.org/weekly-watering-number. The Regional Water Providers Consortium serves as a collaborative and coordinating organization to improve the planning and management of municipal water supplies in the greater Portland, Oregon metropolitan region.