By SARAH GOODRICH
Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — In conjunction with Fairmont State University, the City of Fairmont Utilities Stormwater Program held its sixth annual Stream Cleanup Day at a hidden stream near Hickman Run Wednesday morning.
The program coordinated with the West Virginia Make It Shine activities, which advocates to “keep America beautiful.”
“Every year the State of West Virginia picks a couple weeks to make it shine, where volunteers from throughout the state basically spend time picking up garbage and trash and things of that nature,” said Dave Sago, utility manager for the City of Fairmont Utilities.
Because the city is part of Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, or MS4s, the city is given a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that requires action to be taken to improve the quality of the water that enters the receiving stream, which is the Monongahela River.
“So part of that is basically picking up trash and sentiments and debris that are along the stream bed that actually could enter into the river,” said Sago.
“What we do is we improve a watershed especially in this community where this is really an unkept secret, a beautiful stream right in the middle of our community.”
Though this project helps beautify the area, the water quality is also enhanced through this annual project.
“The benefit is the quality of the water that’s entering into the stream and that’s the whole initiative of MS4. It is not the quantity of water that gets to the receiving stream but the quality, to try to make the quality better,” he said.
Through continuous efforts, the results will stretch from surrounding cities and states.
“Our community will definitely see the benefit as aesthetically, you don’t have the trash and the tires and TVs and all the junk,” said Sago. “We’re cleaning that up, and what happens is that debris doesn’t wash into the stream during rain events so you’re going to see a cleaner water make it to the Mon River.”
About 30 volunteers from Fairmont State University, Fairmont utility staff, Fairmont stormwater staff and the public works department participated in the event.
“We’re making a difference,” commented Sago.
Stephanie Slaubaugh, who oversees FSU’s MS4 program and stormwater program, said she thinks this program is a great opportunity for FSU students to get involved with the community environment projects.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to partner with the city and get the students out in the community helping whether it’s picking up litter along Locust Avenue or partnering with (the city) on a stream cleanup,” she said. “I just think it’s a good control to have the students out giving back to the community and helping the environment at the same time.”
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