September News You Can Use

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Cultivate Conservation

TomatoKiddo

Most agree that growing your own fall vegetable garden can help trim grocery bills. Backyard gardens also help save money on energy bills, reduce transportation emissions, and the need for commercial packing materials. Moreover, fall is the least expensive time of year to plant a number of popular veggies. Because many people think spring when they garden, nurseries often mark down their plants in September. Here are some tips for starting a fall garden, saving some cash, and caring for the environment, too:

  • Conserve water with mulch. Make your own garden cover with raked leaves or lawn clippings. Along with its aesthetic benefit, mulch conserves water, keeps roots cooler, and discourages weeds.
  • Compost. Transform plant waste from your yard and kitchen into free fertilizer and soil amendment. Save money, time, water, and help your community thrive by composting.
  • Reuse newspapers. Use a few sections of newspaper as a weed barrier before applying mulch around your fall plants.  Most newspapers are printed on recycled paper using soy inks so they are an environmentally-safe, cost-conscious way to keep water in and weeds out.

Need help or have a question?  Ask the experts at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

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Stay Smart about Texas Water

Frio River

September in Texas can be one of the cruelest months when it comes to rain. If you’ve received some unseasonably wet weather during August, celebrate responsibly by using water in moderation. Despite some recent spotty showers, most of Texas remains under exceptional or severe drought conditions. Cutting water consumption is smart, both financially and environmentally, and it’s the neighborly thing to do. Some water-wise tips include:

In your yard

Install smart irrigation for your lawn. Electronically “smart” irrigation controllers use weather data to calculate and automatically apply the right amount of water needed by landscape plants.

Prioritize when it comes to watering. When necessary, limit watering to trees, shrubs, and foundations which are more susceptible to damage from drought. Find more information on Texas tree care at Texas A&M.

Practice grasscycling. Allow grass clippings to remain and decompose after mowing. Cuttings act as a slow-release fertilizer while helping to retain moisture in the soil.

Go native. Native plants need less water and fertilizer and often live longer than nonnative species.

Learn more about best practices by ordering a series of six, FREE Take Care of Texas landscape guides.

In your home

Find Leaks.  Pour a packet of grape Kool-Aid in the tank of your toilet.  If the water in the toilet bowl turns purple without flushing, you’re slowly leaking water — and money—down the drain. Fixing a leaky toilet can save about 73,000 gallons a year!

Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing, and save up to four gallons a minute.

Take shorter showers, and/or turn off the shower while lathering. A shut-off valve can be used to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature.

Scrape, don’t rinse, the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. With modern dishwashers and detergents, there is no need to  "pre-clean."

Compost vegetable scraps rather than running water and valuable plant materials through the garbage disposal.

Thank you for doing your part to continue to conserve Texas water — the most important natural resource for the future of Texas. 

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 Protect your Groundwater Day

groundwater

September 10, 2013 is national Protect Your Groundwater Day.  Whether you obtain your drinking water from a private well or a public water system, everyone can take simple steps to protect and conserve groundwater.

Visit the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee’s website for more information.

Don't Miss ...

Adopt A Beach, Sept 28th 

Volunteer to help keep trash off of Texas beaches!

Texas Water Success Stories

Flamingo

After all the talk of drought in Texas, we thought you might appreciate reading about some inspirational accomplishments that have protected, preserved, and improved our state’s water quality.               

     Buck Creek. Partnering with the Texas Water Resources Institute, landowners in the Buck Creek watershed were the driving force behind a successful restoration of this watershed.  With education and outreach programs, landowners took charge and restored 28 miles of Buck Creek. Check out the video.

     North Deer Island Sanctuary  is a 10-plus acre island in West Galveston Bay, where many natural islands have been lost due to sinking and erosion. North Deer is one of the most important colonial water bird nesting islands on the Upper Texas Coast, used by 10,000 - 30,000 pairs of birds each year. In 2009 a consortium of public and private partners received the Coastal America Partnership Award for creating a breakwater to help slow erosion to the island. The partnership also helped fund restoration of wetlands that encompass North Deer. 

     Back the Bay, a.k.a. the Galveston Bay and Estuary Program, boasts such accomplishments as restoration of 8,000 acres of wetlands, habitat protection for fish, shellfish, and majestic water birds, and water quality improvement as communities implement plans to reduce pollution in bayous, creeks, and the Bay.

Find more water success stories and share yours with News You Can Use.

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We’re seeking environmental projects that are making a difference. Apply for the 2014 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards today.  

Compost

Check out this award-winning example of Texas State’s campus composting project, Bobcat Blend!  

Fall Environmental Summits:

The 2013 TCEQ Environmental Summits will bring together the public, political leaders, neighborhood associations, nonprofits, businesses, and students to learn about and discuss ways to improve the Texas environment. The summit schedule includes the following dates and locations:

El Paso Environmental Summit      Friday, October 11

Laredo Environmental Summit
Thursday, October 17

Valley Environmental Summit Thursday, October 24

Highlighted TCEQ Publications

Landscape Pub Cascade

Order all six Take Care of Texas landscaping guides!

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Connect with Take Care of Texas on Facebook and Twitter to find out about environmental events, tips, and interesting tales from fellow Texans.

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