Note: “One of The Best Things in Richland County This Week” is an occasional series from the Public Information Office highlighting County department-related human interest stories that make a difference in our community.
Despite its welcoming walking path and friendly Canada geese, the retention pond at a Richland County facility proved to be in need of a few environmentally responsible upgrades.
Several volunteers gathered Monday to start making those upgrades when they participated in a day of mini-projects organized by the Richland County Stormwater Department and Carolina Clear, a waterway protection organization of Clemson Extension. Carolina Clear's first "Clearly Doing Good" operation took place on the bank of the retention pond at the Richland County Department of Public Works on Powell Road.
"This is the launching site of the first Clearly Doing Good project," said Chenille Williams, Richland County Stormwater Department's Public Education and Outreach Coordinator. "We decided on this day of shorescaping projects as a way to help prevent erosion at the pond and to have a public site to demonstrate and educate anyone about clean water practices."
Personnel from the County's Stormwater, Support Services and Roads and Drainage divisions joined Carolina Clear members in laying down erosion control blankets and planting a buffer of native vegetation that will stabilize the shoreline soil and trap sediment.
The new vegetation serves a dual purpose as it will also help reduce the negative effects of the numerous Canada geese who call the pond home.
"When grass is mowed all the way to the shoreline, it allows Canada geese to see there are no predators and can make them feel right at home," said Katie Giacalone, director of Clemson's Center for Watershed Excellence. She explained how the actions of humans contribute to the birds’ negative effects on the environment. "We give them easy water and land access, we feed them bread – this disturbs their natural migration and their waste can lead to water quality problems."
The shoreline buffer of plants, flowers and trees as well as signage that discourages feeding are a few of the projects aimed at better managing the Canada geese.
A new floating wetland, the use of rain barrels and the implementation of proper rain garden maintenance are additional efforts to improve the retention pond's water quality.
Frank Henning, director of the research and education center at Congaree National Park, was on hand during the shorescaping projects.
"The water from this retention pond drains toward the national park,” he said of the two sites about 30 miles apart. “So we're interested in seeing all these clean water projects being performed.”
Williams emphasized these beautification and erosion-preventing mini-projects, which were funded by Carolina Clear, are not only helping the County protect its waterways. The revitalized 125 feet of shoreline at the Public Works facility now serve as an educational resource for County residents.
"We want to offer a place for people to see and learn about the importance of clean water," she said.
For more information about Carolina Clear's Clearly Doing Good program, visit clemson.edu/public/carolinaclear/ or email Katie Giacalone at email@example.com. To learn more about Richland County's Stormwater Department, visit rcgov.us or email Chenille Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.