Musselmen High School (Inwood, WV) have been learning about
non-point source pollution as part of their participation in
the Stream Cleaner Environmental Forum and also as part of a
Service Learning program though
Cacapon Institute's Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds
(PHLOW) program (funded by West Virginia Commission for
National and Community Service and Service).
Students in Mrs. Stevens
chemistry class know that, according to the Chesapeake Bay
Program, sediment and nutrient pollution are the biggest
non-point source water pollution issue in our region.
Sediment is particles of soil, rock, and sand that are
carried into surface water runoff. Sediment causes
problems for stream bottoms because it fills in the small
spaces between rocks where benthic macroinvertebrates live.
Sediment, while suspended in water, also contribute to the
low oxygen levels in the Chesapeake Bay; it makes the water
cloudy and blocks sun light from reaching the bottom, which
prevents aquatic vegetation from producing oxygen.
Students toured Musselmen
High's grounds looking for "hot spots" areas that might
contributing to erosion that gets into local streams and
ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Hot spots for erosion
can be found by looking for areas of impervious surface.
Impervious surfaces do not allow water to be absorbed into
the ground. Typical impervious surfaces are roads,
parking lots, and buildings. The students were able to
find several erosion hot spots on their campus. In
addition, they found other kinds of non-point source
pollution hot spots as well like. See an aerial image
of their school with
hot spots mapped out here
Students determined to
reduce the amount of erosion entering Mill Creek,
their local stream, by creating a low-mow area
around a runoff pond next to a parking lot. In
a low-mow area, the grass is only cut two or three
times a year. Because it is allowed to grow
tall, the grass will slow runoff and capture more of
the sediment coming off the parking lot.
Students planted trees around the area to define it.
Trees will absorb some of the stormwater runoff, add
wildlife habitat, and create shade.