14 local volunteers gathered at Ridgeview Park this morning for the annual WASS Creek Clean-up. Our haul: 17 bags of trash – consisting of styrofoam, plastic bottles, miscellaneous trash and even a car bumper and an old tire.
One takeaway from this clean up is a recurring trend that WASS has observed on all of our previous clean ups: past torrential rains send high volumes of water down the narrow channels, scouring the banks and leaving the tree roots exposed. In some places, the banks are over five feet tall and the roots dangle into the water below, or dry in the air. The impact, we all know, is a loss to the tree canopy that we all know and love: eventually, all these trees fall. As they do, the bank destabilizes, and the cycle repeats. What exacerbates the cycle beyond natural rates are storms with increasing frequency and volume of stormwater discharge, and increased impervious surface – here’s looking at you, streets and lots and buildings. Cue discussions of pervious surfaces and other green infrastructure.
Our streams are not contained within one lot, one yard, one neighborhood. They flow through us, around us, under us because nature knows no borders. What happens upstream eventually – often rapidly in the case of these high-volume stormwater discharges – makes it way downstream. Our second takeaway is that, second to stormwater pollution (in terms of volume and quality of the water), styrofoam is a major pollutant in our watershed. Before we began our clean up, styrofoam of varied size was strewn about the floodplain to the extent we didn’t believe we would be able to make a difference… see the after photo. We can make a difference in our community. Neighbors who volunteered with us today were astounded at the before and after of the clean up today.