Water Quality is Brighton Scout’s Passion

Posted in: Ground Water News, Misc Water Issues, Water Contamination
Tags: , , , ,

Photo credit: Steve Orr

Article Courtesy of Steve Orr|Democrat & Chronicle|September 1, 2014| Shared as Educational Material

Three years ago, little Buckland Creek flowed through the Brighton school campus near Twelve Corners in a straight, barren channel bordered by grass.

Today, that stretch of creek is swathed in a border of verdant shrubs and colorful native flowers and aquatic plants, growing so thickly it’s hard to see the water beneath them.

The creek, which flows past the high school and then between the middle school and school district offices, was the focus of a 2011 restoration effort by the Monroe County Stormwater Coalition intended to prevent and control stormwater runoff that can cloud and pollute the water.

Volunteers planted hundreds of native specimens along and in the waterway, and added rocks, weirs and a meander to slow the flow of water and improve the habitat for fauna and flora.

It’s judged an environmental and aesthetic success, but Matias Korfmacher wants more.

Korfmacher, a 17-year-old senior at Brighton High School, was looking for a public-service project to earn his Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts and hit upon the idea of pushing water-quality protection.

Part of the effort involves removing non-native plants from the restored stretch of Buckland Creek — Korfmacher and others labored at that on Monday — and also extending the restoration effort farther downstream.

But to earn Eagle, he said, Scouts have to do more than just take part in a project.

“I thought what if I go a step further and promote water quality around this and other projects. That’s what I have a passion for,” said Korfmacher, who helped with the initial Buckland restoration in 2011.

“The goals … are to both support the Buckland Creek project by raising awareness but also to educate the public on why runoff is so important to determining water quality, why the quality matters, and how individuals can reduce their runoff pollution,” he said.

To that end, he and other members of BSA Troop 152, which meets at Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church, set up an information tent at the Brighton Farmers Market.

On Sunday, a steady stream of people stopped by to sign up for free rain barrels and hear Korfmacher and his colleagues talk about the benefits of minimizing runoff into creeks.

They also saw a demonstration on a tabletop bioscape, a model watershed the Scouts borrowed from Monroe County in which coffee grounds and Kool-Aid stand in for wastes that are washed into a lake by a few squirts of simulated rain.

“I don’t think about it as changing minds as much as informing minds,” Korfmacher said of their proselytizing. “I don’t think there are many people who aren’t against reducing pollution. It’s awareness that they need.”

The Scouts planned to go door-to-door with information on Sunday and affixing informational markers to storm drains. Korfmacher also wants to write something about stormwater projection for the school paper and prepare handouts for students to take home encouraging their parents to get rain barrels, which are used to collect rain from downspouts that otherwise would go into storm sewers and creeks.

Stormwater can pick up bird droppings from roofs, fertilizer from lawns, manure from farms and debris from streets and parking lots, depositing all of it into waterways.

Those pollutants can harm wildlife and encourage the growth of nuisance aquatic weeds and algae.

Brighton’s Buckland Creek flows into Allen’s Creek, which joins with Irondequoit Creek near Panorama Plaza and winds up in Lake Ontario.

One visitor to the tent Sunday was Brighton town Supervisor William Moehle, who talked at length with Korfmacher about his passion.

Some of the passion may have rubbed off, as Moehle was enthusiastic as he mentioned an upcoming effort not unlike the Buckland restoration: a project along Monroe Avenue east of Twelve Corners in which a linear rain garden will be planted alongside the street and the sidewalk will be replaced with pervious pavement.

Work on the project, which will lessen runoff into storm sewers, should begin this fall and continue next year.

“It’s really going to benefit our stormwater management and aesthetically, it’s really going to change the face of Monroe Avenue,” Moehle said.

Want to Donate?
Please contact us for gifts in kind - Mail your check to: P.O. Box 545934, Surfside, Fl 33154