Friday, June 6, 2014 — The following release is from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
RALEIGH – Students in three Charlotte public schools can now learn first-hand about the importance of environmental protection, thanks to a state and locally funded project that aims to help cleanup an impaired creek on the schools’ campus.
Mecklenburg County officials constructed a bioretention area, a sand filter and made other improvements to capture stormwater and prevent it from reaching Briar Creek and Little Sugar Creek on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ South Park Campus, which is home to Selwyn Elementary, Alexander Graham Middle, and Myers Park High schools.
“Stormwater runoff in one of most heavily urbanized areas in North Carolina has significantly impaired waters in both of these creeks,” said Bryan Gossage, director of the Office of Land and Water Stewardship in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “This project created an outdoor classroom where students at these schools can learn about environmental protection and witness how to improve a watershed. These kids are our future leaders. It’s important they experience a project like this one rather than just learning about it in a textbook.”
The $2.22 million project was paid for using $1.82 million from Mecklenburg County and $400,000 from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The project involved construction of five areas to capture and treat stormwater on 36 acres of the campus. The project included two bioretention areas, a grassed swale and infiltration trench, a dry detention basin and sand filter, and a stormwater wet pond.
The goal of the project was two-fold: reduce pollution flowing into the creek and educate school children and teachers about environmental protection. Project managers with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Stormwater Services and Huntersville estimated the project would capture significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and other stormwater pollutants and prevent them from flowing into the Little Sugar Creek and Briar Creek.
The campus, which is where about 4,500 students attend school, sits in a highly visible area of central Charlotte with many nature trails and athletic fields used by students and people living nearby.
The project at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ South Park Campus is just the latest effort to reduce stormwater pollution in the Little Sugar Creek watershed. Several other initiatives were partially funded by the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the North Carolina 319 Non-Point Source Pollution program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.