[ back ]
Diet needed for city's waterway
Nutrients washing downstream from waterways like Blacklick Creek in central Ohio can reach as far as the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in an overgrowth of plants that clog rivers for hundreds of miles.
“The problem of excess nutrients was discovered in lakes over 50 years ago,” said Delmar Perry, pollution control technician for the city of Reynoldsburg. “The scope and awareness has expanded ever since.”
Perry said Blacklick Creek is not severely impacted at this time, but the problem becomes more serious downstream, particularly in the Gulf, where excess nutrients from many sources combine and fuel oxygen-free dead zones.
Controlling the situation involves increasing public awareness that results in sufficient voluntary efforts. Simple actions upstream can have great impact downstream, but different areas can impact streams in various ways, Perry said.
“Paved and roofed (areas) tend to increase the amount and speed of runoff,” Perry said. “Large paved and treeless areas tend to increase the temperature of the stream. Residential and agricultural areas frequently contribute nutrients and bacteria.”
All areas can add toxic chemicals and suspended solids, and there is a growing problem with litter, particularly plastics.
During a recent Blacklick Creek clean-up, appliances, mattresses, construction material, drain tile, bicycles and other debris were collected, Perry said.
“If they can lift it high enough, they throw it in the river,” he said. “If every person in Reynoldsburg alone were to prevent just 1 pound of waste from entering the stream each month, that would save the streams from 216 tons of waste per year.”
Aside from reporting illegal dumping, there are other steps concerned citizens can take to minimize their impact on local and national waterways, such as reducing the use of fertilizers in the yard and garden and not sweeping leaves and grass clippings into the street.
“Pet waste is also a source of nutrients and bacteria in waterways,” Perry said. “The old practice of ‘curbing’ your dog should be replaced with a practice of picking up after your pet with proper disposal in a waste container.”
Phosphates also foster excessive plant growth in streams, Perry said. Most phosphate pollution stems from over-fertilizing lawns and gardens, along with the outside use of detergents such as those used for washing cars and houses.
Residents are urged to always use low phosphorous supplies when washing items outside and, if possible, take the family automobile to a commercial car wash. Effluent from commercial car washes is discharged into the sanitary sewer system and is treated in sewage treatment plants, thereby virtually eliminating pollution from soap and oils.
More than four miles of Blacklick Creek wind through Reynoldsburg, and Parks and Recreation Director Jason Shamblin said his department works to maintain the buffer between the creek and city parks.
“We’ve planted trees and reduced our mowing to help with the natural buffers,” Shamblin said. “We’ve looked at areas close to the creek and try to widen the riparian corridor.”
The director said the city is creating a rain garden at Huber Park to collect storm water runoff and, when possible, workers do not mow certain areas of the park where appropriate. All storm water within the city that does not re-evaporate or get absorbed by the soil is sent to the creek.
“It is a priority for us to be good stewards of the environment, and we work closely with Franklin County Soil and Water in providing educational programs,” Shamblin said.
Perry says the city encourages citizen participation in pollution control efforts and awareness, such as group projects that involve cleaning up and removing debris from the creek.
The city investigates reports of any source of pollution entering a stream, including dumping or littering, Perry said. The city also inspects construction sites to minimize sediment runoff.
[ back ]