Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rain Barrel vouchers to return to WICHITA!


 more info to come soon.........


Keep conserving water regardless of city’s decision to hold off on usage fines

As we continue to get more rain (thank heaven!), the Wichita City Council has delayed raising water rates or imposing fines for high water usage, though the restrictions will be revisited, perhaps in July.
Instead, conservation is the watch-word, and the city is finalizing details of a program that will offer rebates for purchases of high-efficiency appliances and smart sensors on sprinkler systems ($100) and rain barrels ($75). Stay tuned for the particulars — such as how many rebates per household, and is that cash or a credit to your water bill? — which may be known by the end of next week.
Coincidentally, Peter Daniels of Wichita Rain Barrels will be at Botanica on Wednesday to give a lunchtime lecture on rain barrels; it’s at 12:15 p.m. and included in Botanica admission. He’ll also have barrels for sale.
There’s never any reason, in any season, for wasting water, and we’ll continue in The Eagle to look at ways to use only what we need. Feel free to send me your ideas. I know that the drought has caused me to reassess my water usage — from not leaving the water running out of the hose while I run to shut off the spigot (a watering wand or nozzle with a shut-off valve is essential) to saving kitchen-sink water that otherwise would run down the drain, such as when I’m rinsing certain things out, for use on houseplants. The conservation has to be simple and quick for me to do it.
While the city government looks for ways to conserve water, I hope officials will nonetheless realize that people who may not be watering gardens at home — along with everyone else — do benefit from public fountains and gardens. Maintaining refreshing and beautiful communal areas is an efficient and good use of water. I hope that the fountains will once again be turned on, and that the city spends more, not less, on our public spaces.
The spring in other ways continues to be a Twilight Zone for me. I am grateful, above all, for the rain. And, after that, for the ability to have windows and blinds open. But temperatures in the 70s have not matched up with the fact that the pools are open and that I don’t have to slow down for school zones on my way to work. Next week’s forecast will take care of that, though.
In the meantime, because we haven’t had to water, and because rain has kept the soil moist, there’s no excuse for not getting after weeds this year. Squatting, bending, pulling — all these movements are good for people who sit at a desk all day. Those of us with back problems should probably still sit for weed-pulling, however. I don’t usually set aside time to weed. I just start pulling when I see what I don’t like, and go for a little while, until the next time, which had better be soon.
The weeds will only get harder to dig out, and the weather will drive us into the AC faster, as the summer unfolds. At least that’s how I remember it.
Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.
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Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/06/08/2837871/keep-conserving-water-regardless.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, March 18, 2013

City of Wichita shies from water rate hike after outcry

City of Wichita shies from water rate hike after outcry

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, March 17, 2013, at 7:46 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, March 18, 2013, at 7:07 a.m.


Options for the city

If the drought continues, the city will run short of water by August 2015. Here are some options the city is considering:
Option 1: A public relations campaign to ask residents to voluntarily reduce water use. This would extend the city’s water supply by about three weeks.
Option 2: Increase rates to reduce outdoor watering, such as watering lawns and filling swimming pools, by 50 percent. Heavy water users could see rate increases of 113 percent. This would extend the city’s water supply by seven months.
Option 3: Eliminate outdoor water use in Wichita by pushing rates even higher. Big users would see rate increases of almost 250 percent – large enough to potentially run major commercial users, like golf courses and greenhouses, out of business. This would extend the city’s water supply by 21 months.
Option 4: Spend $5 million to modify the wells in the Equus Beds to pump more water from the aquifer. This would extend the city’s water supply by 22 months.
City officials have put a plan to raise water rates this spring on hold following public outcry.
In late February, city public works officials said Cheney Reservoir, the source of 60 percent of the city’s water, would go dry by August 2015 if the drought continues.
To conserve water, the city proposed what some City Council members call “punitive” water rates that would force water bills up 50 percent – and in some cases by more than 100 percent – for households that water lawns and gardens or fill swimming pools in the summer. Under the proposal, a family that uses 22,500 gallons of water a month would see its water bill go from $151 to $322 a month.
Council members said they’ve been busy fielding public complaints about the possible rate hikes, both in-office and on the campaign trail.
So city officials are preparing to take Wichita’s potential water shortage to the public, educating residents on ways to save water and holding district advisory board meetings to find out what the ratepayers want the city to do.
City Manager Bob Layton plans to start taking most major city decisions directly to taxpayers for input and to create an office of community engagement.
Vice Mayor Janet Miller said a partnership between residents and the city, through public meetings, produced the renewed emphasis on customer service that allowed the city to keep its five public golf courses open.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to sort through the solutions we’ve developed from staff, and no doubt to hear some possible solutions that we haven’t worked through,” Miller said.
Council member Jeff Longwell said any solution the council chooses must come after a heavy dose of input from residents.
“I frankly don’t think the citizens are going to tolerate punitive water rates to force conservation,” Longwell said. “Just the thought of instituting punitive pricing will do the opposite of what we want to achieve. I guarantee you if we get this kind of pricing out there where some bills are going to go up 113 percent, it’s going to drive people into putting wells down, and they will never conserve.”
Longwell said he and other council members weren’t happy when the public works department urged them during a Feb. 26 workshop to make a decision within a week.
“This decision is just too important to rush,” he said. “There’s no simple solution. We know that, but water is so critical to our growth and the simple, basic fiber of the city that we’ve got to do this right and we’ve got to get this right. I’m tired of seeing issues like this circulate in city staff for awhile, then come to us with two or three decisions and a demand for a vote.”
Julie Fritsch described a visceral reaction when the punitive water rate proposal was announced a couple of weeks ago.
“To tell you the truth, I got mad instantly when I heard about it,” she said.
Fritsch, a homebound mother of five whose husband has a disability, relies on the family’s above-ground pool for cheap, travel-free entertainment for her kids in the summer. The family also uses water to grow flowers and vegetables and to wash their cars.
“We would not be able to fill our pool this summer” if the city opts for punitive water rate pricing, Fritsch said.
“We don’t have a big pool, just an above-ground pool big enough for the kids to play around in it,” she said. “On days it is too hot to play outside, they almost live in it. Without the pool, the kids will resort to staying inside and being on their electronics from dawn until dusk.”
There’s absolutely no flexibility in the Fritsch family budget to pay more to fill the pool, she said.
“We live on a fixed income, so filling the pool would not be an option for us,” she said.
Several Wichitans, including Michael Faulkner and Tiffany Broberg, said the water shortage poses a different problem: forcing families who live in subdivisions that require green lawns to pay spiraling water rates.
Like Fritsch, Broberg said the punitive water rates will force her to make choices between summertime activities for her children, food or complying with the green grass mandates from her homeowners’ association.
“We would have to just let the lawn go, essentially wasting all of the years and water that have already gone into maintaining it,” Broberg said. “It would no longer be an affordable option to keep the lawn quasi-green. I’m not going to, for example, cancel our kids’ activities or cut back on groceries to have a green lawn.”
The Broberg family has already launched its own water conservation measures during the first two years of the drought – “Our lawn is barely green,” Broberg said – driven by water bills topping $270 per month last summer. In Faulkner’s neighborhood, covenants require homeowners to seed, water and mow grass.
“Covenants also require yards to be at least 80 percent grass,” he said. “We must have water for lawns. ... Wichita must increase its water supply.”
Faulkner said parliamentary rules in his homeowners’ association require 75 percent of voters to approve a change to covenants, making rolling back those lawn restrictions “almost impossible.”
“It’s frustrating that our HOA requires 80 percent lawn in the front yard of the residents, prohibiting rock gardens, etc., that would be more environmentally friendly, if not as eye-pleasing,” Broberg said.
“It’s also frustrating watching our neighbors with wells water their lawns twice daily, having gorgeous lawns while we struggle with water.”
Miller said the city would hesitate to jump into the covenant debate by outlawing green grass requirements.
“If you want those covenants changed, then get involved and change them,” she said. “How enforceable are some of them, anyway?”
Broberg touts her experience with water conservation in other cities, urging city officials to look at all water users – well owners, businesses and industrial users – and not just homeowners.
“I have lived in so many other cities outside of Kansas that are able to effectively conserve water,” she said, “but it relies on smarter water use for everyone, not just residents.”
She suggests regulating various types of business water use, including restricting lawn watering between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily and limiting washing parking lots.
Wichitans who love to spend their summers outside growing things are also worried about increased water rates.
Wichitan Crystal Rowell planned on spending her retirement working in her expanded garden.
“I love the challenge of seeing if I can get things to grow,” she said. “I was a daily gardener. I played in it all the time and I watered every day. I had some really pretty things last year. I just love it.”
She likes to grow everything from vegetables to flowers, but on a retired person’s income she’ll have to shrink or eliminate her garden if water rates spike, she said.
“It would be a really big loss if I wasn’t able to garden,” Rowell said.
Longwell said the city’s best approach is a mixture of conservation measures and finding new water sources.
“We’ve got to address the water issue the way we’ve been addressing flooding on the west side for the last six years,” he said. “There’s no one magic bullet. I’m good with sharing information about a variety of conservation methods, from rain barrels to truly understanding how much water grass needs. And we need more water. Maybe El Dorado Lake is one of the big options. We’ve got to find more water sources, because that’s the only way we’re going to grow this community.”
Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

 One of the comments that I get from some of my customers is "how can we make our rain barrel pretty?" We always give step by step instructions  on how to pain the rain barrels and in some cases will paint them for our customers. But we always encourage the customer to give it a try themselves, after all you can always repaint them if you are not happy. We are also going to be selling a new product for 2013. We have teamed up with a new small company here in Sedgwick County called Victory Gardens. Bryan Mann and Clay Johnson have started making Eco friendly long lasting raised garden beds with trellaces that can be attached for vertical gardening & the have started making rain barrel screens. The screen fits snugly around the rain barrel covering it up but still allowing the spigot to poke through for easy access.
Wichita Rain Barrel Screen

 Here is some impressive news and GREAT SUPPORT for Rain Barrel usage.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Schedule of Events

Our first show is just around the corner.
Wichita Home Show: Feb 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th-Century Two
Outdoor Living and Landscape Show: March 1st, 2nd, 3rd-Century Two
( http://www.outdoorlivingandlandscapeshow.com/)
Mother Earth News Fair: Oct 12th 13th-Larence Ks

We have not officially been asked but we are planning on attending Tree fest and Herb day at the Sedgwick County Extension office and we are considering the Farmers market in Old Town or at the Sedgwick County Extension office on Saturdays.We are also planning on the Wellington Garden show too!

Duel Rain barrel set up
A custom installation

Standard Rain Barrel
If you know of a show that you would like us to participate in let me know.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kansas drought isn't easing up; forecasters optimistic for later in the year

An Article from today's paper here in Wichita Ks. Now is the time to start planning on how you will be using your water this summer. Rain barrels give you many options on being more conservative with your water. We also use soaker hoses so we are not watering areas of our garden that do not need the water. We have planted native plants that are drought tolerant and reserve most of our rain water for our season vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers and beans. We also have our soaker hose go though the herb garden. 


The intense drought that crippled much of the growing season for numerous states in the nation’s mid-section in 2012 is showing little sign of easing early in the new year, weather officials say.
But some Kansas forecasters retain hope that enough moisture will fall to provide for a decent winter wheat crop in 2013.
“I’m reasonably optimistic,” AccuWeather vice president Mike Smith said in an e-mail response to questions from The Eagle.
Long-range forecasts offered by computer models suggest precipitation levels will be normal from February through June, he said.
“That wouldn’t break the drought but it would give enough moisture for the wheat crop,” Smith said.
Smith said the main reason for his optimism is that the high-pressure dome that camped out over the heartland for most of 2012 shifted west – well out into the Pacific Ocean – in early December and shows no signs of moving.
“That is in nearly an ideal position to guide storms into our region,” he said.
Wichita and eastern Kansas need the moisture.
Salina’s rainfall for 2012 was more than 13 inches below normal and Chanute’s was nearly 10 inches. Wichita’s total was almost 8 inches below normal.
Since last summer, precipitation across the region is running 25 to 50 percent of normal, according to a drought information statement issued late last week by the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Palmer Drought Severity Index for Dec. 29, 6 to 9 inches of rain is needed in the eastern third of Kansas to break the drought. Most of the rest of the state needs 3 to 6 inches.
“This precipitation can not come all at once, but needs to arrive in staggered intervals in order to minimize runoff and maximize ground absorption,” the drought information statement said. “This will be tough to accomplish during the winter months due to historically less precipitation during the winter, and will likely need to wait until spring at the earliest.”
Indeed, the Climate Prediction Center forecasts the drought to persist in most of the western half of the U.S. through at least the end of March – from eastern Iowa and central Missouri west to the Pacific Ocean in southern and central California and the Nevada state line in northern California.
A wet winter and early spring – along with a growing season that ran two to three weeks ahead of normal – helped Kansas wheat farmers avoid the worst of the drought that began to set in by early summer, leading to a 38 percent increase in total bushels over the year before, according to Kansas Agricultural Statistics.
But warm temperatures and dry weather in the nation’s wheat belt had the current winter wheat crop in its worst shape in decades in late November, according to government officials.
While there have been spotty rains around Kansas in the fall and early winter, substantial deficits remain.
Water levels at most of the state’s reservoirs are down. Cheney Reservoir, for example, has less than 60 percent of its normal water capacity. Most of Cheney’s boat ramps are surrounded by land.
Soil moisture levels in early January ranged from 8 inches in eastern Kansas to 12 inches in western parts of the state, according to the Climate Prediction Center. That is 4 to 6 inches below seasonal normals.
The center projects below normal precipitation across the High Plains for much of the growing season, based on current weather patterns, said Jeff Hutton, warning coordination meteorologist for the Dodge City branch of the weather service.
“Precipitation on average will ‘probably’ be below normal again this year but perhaps not that far below normal,” Hutton said in an e-mail response to questions. “That being said, it will take several months in a row of above normal precipitation to diminish the severity of the ongoing drought.”
A snowy December – by western Kansas standards, at least – is a decent first step. Dodge City recorded 6.9 inches of snow, which is 2.8 inches above normal for December

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/01/07/2627817/kansas-drought-shows-little-sign.html#emlnl=Morning_Headlines_Newsletter#storylink=cpy

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Recap of 2012 Part 1

Custom Installation, customer cemented the stand into place
Triple Rain Barrel Set Up
Custom Installation
Custom Installation
Custom Installation
Custom Stucco Painted WRB
Custom Stucco Painted WRB

Recap of 2012 Part 2

Earth Day 2012

Herb Day 2012 at Sedgwick County Extension Office

Baptist Church Community Garden 

Benton Elementary School Garden

Earhart environmental magnet

Sedgwick County Extension Office installation 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WIchita Rain Barrels, the word is spreading!

RiverCity WRAPS set up an informational booth at the Kansas Preservation, Energy and Sustainability Conference on Saturday, Jan. 28. Volunteers worked to educate the public about the importance of keeping our river, lakes and streams clean. The event drew nearly 600 people and featured 85 vendor booths.
Wichita Rain Barrels was another poplular booth for participants looking for ways to conserve water. “One inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof can yield up to 623 gallons of fresh rainwater,” said Peter Daniels, Wichita Rain Barrels owner.
Westar Energy’s display featured several new electric vehicles. Wichita’s fleet of electric cars can now be charged at a new 240-volt charging station located in the north parking lot outside the Westar’s general office. Davis-Moore Chevrolet also displayed its new Chevy Volt. The Volt propulsion system is powered exclusively by electricity. Volt owners can even use a smartphone to access their vehicle’s electric range and fuel efficiency.