Sunday October 11, 2015
Torey Olson and 21 of her students from South Burlington High School’s (SBHS) environmental science class joined Laura Dlugolecki of the Chittenden County Stream Team in the East Woods to learn about the Potash Brook Watershed and participate in a stream clean up along Potash Brook.
Potash Brook’s watershed covers approximately seven square miles and drains into Lake Champlain at Shelburne Bay. The Potash Brook Watershed is comprised of approximately 22 percent impervious areas, which include parking lots, roads, rooftops, and driveways.
The students made connections between the large impervious surface cover in the watershed and the water quality issues in Potash Brook. During rainstorms or when snow melts, large volumes of water can run off the impervious areas in the watershed and make their way into Potash Brook and eventually Lake Champlain. This runoff can carry a variety of pollutants including bacteria from animal waste, nutrients from fertilizer and sediment from loose soil. Runoff can also carry larger, more visible trash. Looking at maps of the area and seeing trash in drainage areas and the stream channel allowed the students to see how trash (and other invisible pollutants) can make their way into Lake Champlain from Potash Brook. Trash in the waterways has the potential to be harmful to fish and recreational activities.
As the students paired up and walked the banks of Potash Brook to remove any trash, they discussed the importance of the East Woods. Large swaths of forested land help filter out pollutants and provide space for water to soak into the ground. The students filled large bags with trash and carried them out of the East Woods to dispose of properly.
For more information on the Chittenden County Stream Team including upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, visit ccstreamteam.org.