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Stormwater Utility

Green Giving for Blue Water

As December approaches, the streams, rivers and lakes are beginning to glow silver under the icy nights sky. But in order for it to flow blue next spring it’s important that each of us look for ways to give our waters a gift of clean water. Here are ideas for Green Giving this holiday season for blue waters in the future.

Starting small, here are some ideas for gifts under $10:

  • Framed photo of a local water body: Give a picture of your favorite Rock River Basin location or a special spot the two of you share.
  • Reusable water bottle: Your municipal water is as good as most any of the bottled waters. Gallon for gallon buying bottled water costs more than gas for your car!
  • Doggie pooh bags and dispenser: Let Fido carry his own pooh bag. Most pet stores have cute little containers with a string of plastic, often decomposable, bags that attach right to the collar or leash.
  • Non-toxic lawn care products: Almost all garden stores carry products such as insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth and BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) all of which safely handle many garden pests.
  • Water calendar: If you can’t find a good calendar with pictures of water, check out the UW-Extension Wildlife Phenology calendar at http://learningstore.uwex.edu. $10 includes shipping.

 Here’s a few ideas for gifts from $10 – $50:

  • Membership to a water partnership group, such as the Rock River Coalition: rockrivercoalition.org
  • Give a book about water: The Wisconsin Water Library at http://aqua.wisc.edu/waterlibrary/ has many new titles from 2009 including books for kids, the chef or the traveler.  

There are many garden and home choices in the $50 – $100 range including:

  • Milky Spore: An organic way to control Japanese beetle grubs, it takes a few years, but once your soil is inoculated it will help keep your grub population down for years and years.
  • Life jackets/PFD’s: The new ones are comfortable and stylish–more likely to be worn than many of the older styles. How about adding a local paddling map with a promise to paddle together.
  • Compost Bins: Buy a compact compost bin for your yard and kitchen waste or make your own with directions found at http://www.backyardgardener.com/compost/index.html.
  • Vermi-composter:  Use angleworms and earth worms (vermi means worm) to turn kitchen waste into rich compost. Search on-line to find directions on building them or sources to purchase one.
  • Rain Barrel: Go to rockrivercoalition.ning.com for a list of rain barrel sources in southern Wisconsin. Many retailers are starting to carry reasonably priced commercial ones.
  • Walking shoes: Quality walking shoes will help you enjoy our many river walks and hiking trails.
  • Caddisfly jewelry http://wildscape.com/ extremely unique jewelry made by a common stream insect.

Kick it up a notch with lawn care equipment or recreational gear for $100 and up:

  • Mulching mower: Mulching grass clippings and leaves means one less annual fertilizer application.
  • Stream monitoring kit: D-nets, hand lenses, dissolved oxygen kit.  Support the Rock River Coalition monitoring program by sponsoring one monitoring team.
  • Binoculars: Along with the binoculars, go online and download the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail Guides: The Southern Savannah Region booklet covers the whole Rock River Basin.
  • GPS unit: Perfect tool for the stream monitor or use it to find the many great geocaches around the Rock River Basin. For more information go to www.geocaching.com.
  • Rain garden gift certificate: Most providers of plants for rain gardens or prairies have gift certificates. Check out a spring garden expo or fair to learn more about installing one. 

Priceless – go for a walk or a paddle with your children, friends or group; become a stream monitor or an active member of a local group or host a rain garden information workshop in your community.

Brought to you by Clean water. Bright future. a campaign of the Rock River Stormwater Group of which the City of Whitewater is a member. More information at cleanwaterbrightfuture.com.

Author Suzanne Wade, UWEX Rock River Basin Educator.