Buffalo State office prevents water pollution
blog by The Buffalo State Record • March 01, 2012 @ 4:00pm
Buffalo State’s Environmental Health and Safety Office is currently involved in a number of outreach initiatives on campus to inform students and faculty about stormwater pollution.
Environmental Programs Coordinator John Bleech said this is part of a public education and outreach program that’s been going on for about three years that involves issuing surveys, presenting data in classrooms and setting up tables in the union.
“It’s not just to find out opinions from the campus on how to better housekeep, but also to inform people about the hazards of stormwater pollution and the effects of littering,” Bleech said.
The office is mainly concerned with Scajaquada Creek, a local water body that runs next to campus and flows into Hoyt Lake. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation classifies the creek for fish propagation and survival, but it doesn’t meet those criteria because it’s so polluted.
“When it rains, it hits impervious areas like the streets and it picks up everything that’s on the streets, like dirt, oil and trash, and it goes down into a storm drain,” said Jamiecka Price, a student assistant. “This affects the water body, kills the fish, affects aquatic life and aesthetically looks ugly because it turns the lake green.”
To reduce this effect, Price said all storm drains around campus have the slogan “Only Rain Down the Drain” printed on them so people know not to dump any harmful substances or materials.
In addition to outreach efforts, Bleech said the office holds a stormwater permit from New York State allowing them to install and maintain a number of facilities on campus that reduce pollution. These include a detention pond, a vortex storm scepter underneath Rockwell road and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified compost-based filtration system at the Burchfield Penney.
The new science and technology buildings will also have LEED systems, and the science building will have a rooftop rain garden to help with irrigation.
Bleech said the office also periodically backwashes the filters in Kissinger pool, trains contractors working on construction projects to control sediment and collaborates with the Great Lakes Center by testing and treating water in their fish tanks.
“There are a lot of things you don’t really see out there that we’re doing to improve the water, but that’s why we’re doing outreach to get the word out that there are a lot of changes that have occurred over the last five years here on campus,” he said.
Graduate Student Alyssa Russell works alongside Bleech and Price inspecting piping on campus, doing geographic information systems work and stormwater modeling as part of her graduate thesis.
“It’s been a great eye-opening experience and shows how much they do on campus, providing in-depth detail on how the environment really does work,” she said. “It really shows how much pollution affects the area.”
Later in the semester, Bleech said the Volunteer and Service Learning Center will be holding their annual Spring Cleanup Day to get students to take an active part in cleaning up the environment. He also said the office will be looking for volunteers to assist in projects during the summer.
“We do everything from inspect inflow and outflow pipes, test water and do road sweeping,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Buffalo State Record News Editor