By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
Valentine’s Day is almost here and if you are like me, you are frantically trying to decide what to give a loved one. But before you decide, please put some thought into your choice.
But first, did you know that the occasion actually started back during the Roman Empire? The poet Chaucer changed the perception with flowery poetry and turned it into one of the most popular days to give flowers. There is a lot of symbolism around the type, color, and number of flowers that are given, but rather than going into all that, I want to provide you with some ideas about the types of flowers to give and how flowers should be cared for.
Roses are the most popular flower given for Valentine’s Day, but did you realize that tulips are the second most popular? Don’t rule out giving a live plant (or even a potted flowering plant) that can be kept indoors and/or moved outside once the weather warms up. I like live plants because they can be enjoyed all year, not just on this special day, but an avid gardener might simply enjoy a gardening gift. Below are a few guidelines which will make live flowers last longer.
Water is vital. Keep the vase or floral foam soaked with water at all times. Add fresh water daily and use warm water as this speeds uptake. If the water turns cloudy, replace it immediately with fresh water. If possible, re-cut rose stems every day by removing one to two inches. Use a sharp knife and if at all possible, this cut should be made under water and at an angle as this allows the stem to draw in water instead of air.
Keep Valentine’s flowers cool. Warm temperatures shorten the life of the blooms. Avoid direct sunlight and heating vents. Did you know that warm air from ceiling fans will cause the flowers to fade, so avoid a down draft? Appliances like TV’s and computers also give off heat causing the flowers to dry out.
Use a floral trick for wilted or droopy flowers. If the flowers start to wilt, remove the stem from the arrangement and re-cut the stem. Next, submerge the entire flower in warm water. Leave it in the water for one to two hours. This treatment should perk the flowers up and extend its life for a couple of more days. This trick works well for cut roses.
Take special care of flowers wrapped in paper or a box. If you give loose stems of flowers, keep them cool as long as possible before delivering them to your loved one. If you receive loose stem flowers, fill a clean vase with water and add flower food from a florist. Follow packet instructions for mixing. Before placing the stems in the vase, remove all foliage that will be below the waterline because leaves in water promote bacterial growth which decreases the life of the flowers. Re-cutting the stems under water with a sharp knife is recommended before placing in the vase.
Potted plants and bulbs are also a popular gift. Like arrangements, keep potted flowering plants in a cool location and avoid heat drafts or dry air to make the color last longer. Most indoor plants will require even a little moisture so check the soil daily and add water if the soil is dry to the touch, but do not let the plants stand in water as this will harm the root system.
If you have any questions about caring for flowers and plants, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Due to heavy flows from the recent rainfall, the Ellijay-Gilmer County Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) experienced flows that were too high for optimal plant performance which caused discharge of approximately 671,600 Gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Coosawattee River. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has been notified and Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewerage Authority (Authority) employees are following EPD protocol for such a discharge. The discharge occurred at the WWTP effluent flume located at 64 Merk Davis Drive; a sign has been placed to notify the public of the site of the discharge.
If you have any questions concerning this issue, please contact the Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewerage Authority at (706) 276-2202, or the Wastewater Treatment Plant at (706) 635-7930.
Gary McVey, Director
Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewerage Authority
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners August meeting saw an unexpected addition to its agenda as citizens from the Rainbow Lake area met to ask the board to stop the clear cutting of over 500 acres of Timber in the area.
“Devastation,” the word kept arising as citizen after citizen walked to the podium asking the Commissioners to stop the process, or somehow change it to selective cutting.
It is the word that Diane Davenport used when she said she lived downstream of the area. She told the board, “It’s going to devastate us for as long as I live, and as long as my family who inherit my land live.”
Joe Paprocki offered a structured argument against the clear-cut saying there are four main areas majorly affected in the county by this process.
The first area is the water, “We think the soil erosion and silt run-off will critically impact not only Rainbow Lake itself, but James Creek, Mountaintown Creek, and even Carter’s Lake. It will also impact our groundwater and well water.”
The second area is the wildlife, “We believe a clear-cut of this magnitude will be, pretty much, a 100% obliteration of habitat which will vastly diminish animal populations… for many years to come.”
The third area is the countywide quality of life, “We believe people come to Gilmer County to enjoy its forests, lake, creeks, fresh air, and natural beauty. We believe deforestation on this scale will force people like us to reconsider where we are living, if we want to be surrounded and hemmed in by this devastation.”
The fourth area is the property values, “I think we will almost immediately see property values plummet… That means tax revenues are going to go down with it, and county services will go down. Jobs will probably be lost.”
Paprocki said that he has heard people say its private property and there is nothing they can do, but that “800 acres” of devastation, an area large enough to land a 747 commercial airplane, affects the public and is, therefore, a public issue.
One citizen called the area a “war-zone” affecting the lives of the animals she keeps on a farm in the area, another referred to the endangered species in the area as well as the threat of invasive species cropping up after the clear-cut.
As if punctuating the emotion of the community, Alvin Sisson stepped to the podium. Speaking slowly and holding back tears, he choked out his words in short parts. “I was born and raised in Gilmer County, in this area. I have worked the whole project when they built Rainbow Lake. I worked Rainbow Lake from cutting the brush to building the dam itself.”
Noting the three major creeks that feed into Rainbow Lake, Sisson said the creeks would go red with mud before they feed that into the lake as a whole. He noted 500-foot buffers would not stop the devastation, they would not hold back the destruction of the area.
Everyone who spoke either opposed the clear-cut or asked to change to selective cut except one.
Richie Mullins of the Georgia Forestry Commission offered what basically became a crash course in the Commission’s water and forest quality assurance. Walking those present through the logging process and his part, as a Water Quality Specialist, in continuing to maintain the creeks’ and lake’s clarity in the process of and the aftermath of the project.
Calling himself the “Erosion Police,” Mullins assured citizens that he was the area’s biggest advocate for maintaining the lake and the water. Even he never fully said the clear-cut was a good thing, instead trying to assure citizens that he would monitor the project and address their concerns.
Even he himself told a resident that he would prefer a selective cut.
The situation was summed up in one short sentence by Commission Chairman Charlie Paris as he said, “I’d stop it if I could, but I can’t.”
He went on to explain that while he wholeheartedly agreed with citizens about avoiding the clear-cut at all costs, he could not find any legal ways to force the issue. Pausing a moment, he said that if anyone had a legal argument he wanted it so that he could use it. As he stated, in the end, it is their land and they can do it as long as they follow the rules.
“I hate that,” said Paris, “and I know not as much as ya’ll do, but I do hate that.”
Despite the disappointing response, one citizen stood to say, “We just appreciate being heard so that other people know about what is going on because, frankly, it blindsided me.”
As it stands with citizens continuing to look for answers to the project, it seems that they will be keeping a close eye on the logging operation alongside the Forestry Commission to maintain the area after the project completes.
Well Water Testing
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
For the most part, north Georgia did not see extreme flooding as a result of hurricane Irma as did other areas of the state, but it does bring to mind the importance of well safety. Wells that were overtopped by flood waters need to be flushed and tested for bacteria because of the potential danger of contaminants being washed into the well. UGA Extension Water Resource Management and Policy Specialist Gary Hawkins recommends pumping and flushing a minimum of 2 or 3 times the well volume to clear the system. This water should be discarded from an outside faucet and not from an inside faucet to bypass the home’s septic tank. After pumping the water, the well should be shock chlorinated then the well should be flushed again until there is no smell of chlorine bleach and, like before, the flushing step should be done through an outdoor faucet to bypass the septic system. This highly chlorinated water, if discharged to the septic tank, could cause problems with the bacterial colonies in the septic tank.
After the well is shock-chlorinated, flushed and the chlorine smell is gone (about two weeks), the well water should be tested for bacteria. Families can get their well water tested using their local county UGA Extension office. Until the test for bacteria comes back, Hawkins strongly suggests that water for cooking or drinking be boiled before consumption. If the well contains bacteria the report will explain how to treat the well.
To calculate the volume of water that should be pumped from a well, use the following calculation. Most of the well casings in this area are 6 inches so the factor for that size is 1.47. That means that there are 1.47 gallons of water for every foot in depth. Multiply the depth of water in the well by this factor to determine how much water is in the well. If your casing is not 6 inches, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office and we can get the right factor.
There are several methods to determine how much water you have flushed out, but the one that I use is to calculate how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket. Divide that time by 5 to get the output per minute. Using this figure you can determine how many minutes you need to run the water to flush the number of gallons of water that was determined in the previous calculation. A couple of methods can be used to determine the depth of water in a well. If you can see the water in the well, lower a heavy object tied to a string down the well and measure the length of the string until you see the object touch the water. In a deep well, lower a heavy object like above until you hear the object hit the water and measure the length of string. If you cannot see the object hit the water, another way (but less accurate) is to drop a small stone into the well and count or time the seconds it takes for the stone to hit the water (you will have to listen closely for this.) Multiply the number of seconds by 32.2 and that will let you know how far the water is below the surface. Knowing the depth of the well and the depth from surface, subtract the two to get the height of the water column for calculating the volume of water in the well.
An example of this calculation is if you have a well that is 300 feet deep and the water level is 25 feet from the surface, subtracting 25 from 300 equals 275 which means you have 275 feet of water in the well. Multiply 275 by 1.47 to get the gallons in the well. That figure is 404.25 gallons. Using a factor of 3 pints per 100 gallons, you would need to apply a little over 12 pints of chlorine bleach in the well.
If you have any questions about this process or for more information on well water testing, contact me at the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.
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Public Health Notice: DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM FLOODED WELLS OR SPRINGS
North Georgia – Due to recent weather conditions, any well or spring that has been covered with flood waters must be considered contaminated. Do not drink the water until after flood waters have receded, the well or spring has been disinfected with household bleach and the water has been laboratory tested. Contact the local county Environmental Health Office for questions and further instructions, if needed.
Disinfecting a Well
Well disinfection is necessary if the well or spring was covered with flood waters. Before chlorinating, it is important to check the integrity of the well or spring water source to prevent future contamination. Well construction must prevent entry of surface water, debris, insects and animals. The well casing and concrete slab should be sealed and the well cap or sanitary seal must be secure. Springs should be in a sealed spring house.
- Thoroughly clean all accessible outside surfaces removing any loose debris and mud around the well or spring. Then, wash the well area with a strong chlorine solution (1 quart of household bleach per 5 gallon of water).
- Determine the amount of water in the well. Calculate the amount of bleach chlorine needed. DO NOT USE SCENTED BLEACHES. Health officials recommend using the normal strength household bleach, which is 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite.
- Remove the well cap or place a funnel into the small vent pipe of the well cap. Use the table below and add the appropriate amount of bleach. A minimum of 50 ppm chlorine solution is required:
|20’||3 pints||3 pints||½ gal.||½ gal.||2 gal.||3 gal.|
|40’||3 pints||3 pints||½ gal.||¾ gal.||–||–|
|80’||3 pints||½ gal.||½ gal.||¾ gal.||–||–|
|100’||3 pints||½ gal.||¾ gal.||1 gal.||–||–|
If depth and diameter are unknown, 1 gallon of bleach can be used. Extra bleach does not necessarily mean extra disinfection and can be a health hazard in itself.
DO NOT DRINK OR PREPARE FOODS WITH WATER WHILE BLEACH IS IN THE WATER SYSTEM!
- Run water from an outside faucet through a hose until a strong chlorine odor can be detected. Place the end of the hose in the well allowing the water to run down the sides of the casing and circulate for at least 15 minutes. Replace the well cap.
- Turn off the hose and enter the home opening each tap, one at a time, until the smell of chlorine can be detected. Please include hot water faucets, toilets, bathtubs, washing machine, etc.
- Once the chlorine odor reaches all outlets, let the water system stand for 8 hours, preferably overnight. Refrain from any water use during this time.
- Flush the system of chlorine by turning on an outside faucet letting it run until the chlorine odor dissipates. Finally, run indoor faucets until the water is clear and the chlorine odor is gone. Do not run any unnecessary water into the septic system or allow the chlorinated water to drain directly into a stream or pond. Continue this process until the odor of bleach is completely gone.
- The water should be laboratory tested to determine if it is safe to drink. It is recommended that over the next several weeks two additional samples be taken to be sure results are satisfactory. Repeated chlorination and/or a well professional should be called if problems remain.
- If not sure how to disinfect a well or spring, how to take a well sample or how to get laboratory results, contact the local county Environmental Health Office.
Written by Raymond King, Director of Environmental Health, North Georgia Health District 1-2
For direct access to this Public Health Notice on our website, log onto http://nghd.org/pr/34-/741-public-health-notice-do-not-drink-water-from-flooded-wells-or-springs.html