We’re big fans of bringing data, science and information to the public in formats everyone can understand. We’re even bigger fans of making that information irresistible, as the Utah Quality Task Force has done with its new website championing water quality. Not everyone needs a PhD in biophysics (although zNano’s chief scientist finds his most useful), but everyone needs to be concerned about clean water.
The Utah task force just unveiled a small farms water quality website to “help small farms avoid actions that would harm neighbors downstream and Utah’s water quality in general,” said Jim Bowcutt, Utah Division of Water Quality environmental scientist, in an interview with ABC News in Salt Lake City. The site includes best practices for many challenges a small farm faces, including pesticide and fertilizer use and “manure management.”
These actions are increasingly important to address, he said, given that “more people are interested in growing their own food amid recent earthquakes and the coronavirus outbreak.” Case in point: Recent analyses of soil sample from around the state found levels of phosphorus, a common ingredient in many fertilizers, over 25 times higher than needed for healthy plants. “These unused nutrients are carried by irrigation or rain runoff into our surface waters,” Bowcutt said. “Just like we shouldn’t share chewing gum, we shouldn’t share water pollution.”
It’s this kind of direct, easy-to-understand language – along with some handsome chickens and colorful charts and graphs – that make the new website so useful. With the catchy URL DontShare, the home page shouts (graphically speaking) “Don’t Share!” with the tagline, “ Good neighbors don’t share pollutants, weeds & disease.”
In addition to good farming practices, the website also addresses well water quality, septic systems, fuel storage, hazardous materials management, and more. We especially like the tips for “improving water quality on small acreages” and links to “Grants & Assistance.” Let’s all be “good neighbors,” not “problem neighbors,” as the task force website defines them.