Fairfax County Wins Award from Chesapeake Stormwater Network


March 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

Fairfax County Wins Award from Chesapeake Stormwater Network

The Citizen Scientist Floatables Monitoring Program received a 2017 Honorable Mention from the Chesapeake Stormwater Network, Best Urban BMP in the Bay Award (commonly known as a BUBBA) in the best education and outreach program in the Bay watershed category.

Floatables are water-borne litter and debris. Plastic bags, cigarette butts, bottles and cans, food containers and other trash that is not recycled or disposed of properly and ends up in streams.

The BUBBAs recognize the best urban BMPs (Best Management Practices) that have been installed in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. "In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, low impact development practices are more commonly employed as a result of stringent stormwater management regulations and the recently implemented Bay TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads)," according to the BUBBA web page.

"It is really great to see how schools and stormwater employees are working collaboratively to implement a real world scientific approach and experience for students that is aimed at improving water quality," said Craig Carinci, P.E., Director, Stormwater Planning Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. "It is a privilege to receive a 2017 Honorable Mention from the Chesapeake Stormwater Network," he said.

The Citizen Scientist Floatables Monitoring Program is designed as a hands-on, year-long partnership between Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES). In the program, scientists from DPWES and students from several schools across Fairfax County work together to monitor the amount of floatables that is reaching local waterways.

More than 350 students from seven schools within the Fairfax County Public Schools system participate as citizen scientists to help county staff monitor floatables in and adjacent to nearby streams. These include Belvedere, Belle View, Daniels Run, Dogwood, Lemon Road and Little Run elementary schools and Marshall High School.

"Students learn how their actions and behaviors may impact our natural resources and are empowered to make better choices in litter prevention," said Danielle Wynne, Ecologist III, Stormwater Planning Division, DPWES, who leads the program.

"My fifth-graders love going to a nearby park to monitor with Danielle," said Stacey Evers of Belvedere Elementary School. "They get to be outside, they get to use data recording sheets and they understand that the work they're doing matters. After all, a professional ecologist comes to our school to monitor with them and use their data. At the same time, they're bearing witness to the impact of litter on the environment and waterways," Stacey said.

The Citizen Scientist Floatables Monitoring Program offers a new service to Fairfax County Public Schools by connecting students to a real world application of science presented by specialists in the field. Students who participate in the program expand their working knowledge of watershed science, practice scientific thinking skills and are able to make connections between behaviors and environmental impacts.

Fairfax County benefits from engaging residents at an early age and instilling the importance of environmental stewardship. The program is low cost but enjoys high gains. It is easily expanded and replicated to meet the needs of other jurisdictions across the country.

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Contact: Irene Haske,
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-5821, TTY 711

 


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