Local Clean-Up Efforts Collect Almost a Ton of Trash
During the Anne Springs Close Greenway’s Earth Day Celebration weekend, a team of 141 volunteers hit the streets ready to collect trash around Fort Mill and along Steele Creek in an effort to mitigate land and water pollution. The stream clean and litter patrol event was a collaboration between the Town of Fort Mill Stormwater Department and the Anne Springs Close Greenway. In two hours, volunteers were able to collect 81 bags of litter (3/4 ton!) in addition to cardboard, plastic bottle, Styrofoam and soda cans. Other large items such as old bikes, numerous tires, PVC pipe, computer monitors and many paint cans were also found discarded along the roads. In total, 282 volunteer hours were given to this one effort.
Pam Gordon, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Greenway, recently spoke with Town of Fort Mill Stormwater Management Coordinator Jacqueline Martin to discuss the importance of stream clean and litter patrol efforts.
PG: Steele Creek is one of the reasons we partnered last weekend with over 130 volunteers for a stream clean and littler patrol event ahead of Earth Day. Can you tell us how stormwater affects our local waterways and what the negative effects are when it’s polluted?
JM: The Town of Fort Mill has storm drains all around that collect all of the stormwater runoff and move it through our storm system. This system of grates, inlets and pipes all lead directly to our local waterways meaning whatever goes in through the drains comes out in Steele Creek, Sugar Creek and the Catawba River. Any foreign substance or exceeding amount of sediment can cause a multitude of issues such as flooding, fish kills due to declining oxygen levels and water quality, and contamination of native plant habitats. These natural areas and streams provide aesthetic beauty, animal and insect habitats and recreational use to our town so it’s important to do all we can to protect them.
PG: What are the most common forms of stormwater pollution in the Fort Mill community?
JM: The most common pollutants are pet waste, detergents (ie. soaps from car washing, power washing, etc.), litter, sediment from construction sites and pesticides and insecticides. It’s important to be cognizant of the products we use and the habits we practice on our own properties and around town. We always encourage residents to explore non-hazardous insecticides, start a rain garden or collection system, visit a car wash instead of washing in your driveway and learn the drainage patterns of your property. All of these are small steps that help prevent stormwater pollution.
PG: It would seem there are things we can do to limit the impacts of pollution. Can you give us some ideas?
JM: The Town of Fort Mill has many opportunities for residents to get involved with stormwater management. Volunteers are needed for our Adopt-A-Stream program, our Second Saturday Littler Service Patrol, the water quality monitoring program and other community awareness campaigns. The Stormwater Management Department is always happy to partner on any community group project in relation to stormwater.
Even with theses efforts, there will be litter that makes into waterways like Steele Creek – especially after storms and heavy rains. In the near future, the Greenway will be installing a Litter Gitter in Steele Creek to catch litter before it flows to the Catawba River. The Litter Gitter is a floating device that rises and falls with the creek’s level to collect and contain litter in the creek. Greenway staff and volunteers will document the litter it captures, dispose of trash and recycle appropriate materials.
If you would like to learn more about the Anne Springs Close Greenway’s volunteer efforts in keeping our roadways, trails and waterways litter free, please contact Pam Gordon at PamGordon@ascgreenway.org. To learn more about the Town of Fort Mill’s Stormwater Management Department or to volunteer with any of their programs, please contact Jacqueline Martin at JMartin@fortmillsc.gov.