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Harpeth River Watershed Association Utilizes AmeriCorps to Bring Marina to the Area

No, there isn’t a new marina being planned for the Harpeth River, but there is a Marina here now. Marina Metes has come a long way to help those of us in the Harpeth River Watershed appreciate the beauty and importance of what the river gives us. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, and wanted to serve her country, but a military career “is not for me”, Marina said. She has chosen a unique and rewarding way to do just that.

Marina Metes will be working as an AmeriCorps OSM/VISTA member with Harpeth River Watershed Association staff for at least a year. Marina is coordinating HRWA’s programs related to community outreach by creating a social media information series on Facebook and Twitter, and a series of community information/education sessions and events. These together will help inform, educate and empower residents of the watershed on key water quality issues affecting them. Marina’s work will cover a broad range of topics, including: 1) A series exhibiting the wonderful richness of biodiversity in the river and how a healthy ecosystem leads to cleaner water and healthier people. The more that people are aware of the importance of this state scenic river and the unique richness of its wildlife, the more they will support the larger goal of improving the water quality in the river through higher water quality standards and a more integrated approach to managing sewer and drinking water needs. This will protect the river’s resources, public health, and recreation on the river.; 2) assessing current drug take-back programs, expanding the recycling locations within the watershed, and communicating the importance of recycling old prescription drugs instead of flushing them down the toilet, which can impair the quality of our rivers and our drinking water; 3) research on contaminants of emerging concern due to increasing reuse of treated effluent for drinking water; and 4) helping residents and farmers throughout the watershed implement agricultural best management practices to minimize runoff containing fertilizers, pesticides, and animal waste.

Last week on September 18, Marina got out into the community to work with young scientists for “World Water Monitoring Day”. This event is a world-wide outreach event aimed at involving citizens with their local water ways, conducting basic water quality tests, and raising awareness of important water resources.

Marina conducted two water quality presentations to a 7th and 8th grade science class at Harpeth Middle School. This presentation was part one of a two part lesson. Part I included an

Harpeth River Watershed Association Utilizes AmeriCorps to Bring Marina to the Area

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introduction to watersheds and the Harpeth River in particular, water pollution, what parameters the students will be testing for, and why. The presentation also included a demonstration of nonpoint source pollution using “enviroscape”. Part II included water quality monitoring at Muddy Branch Creek across the street from the school, which is part of the Harpeth River. Monitoring at the creek included sampling of temperature, pH, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, and benthic macro-invertebrates.

The students admitted to polluting the river or watershed in one way or another, but many were not aware that these practices contributed to water pollution. The biggest source of pollution from the students came from not picking up after their pet.

When the 7th grade class went down to the stream for part II of this lesson they explored the creek in search of pollution-sensitive insects and critters, who can tell us a lot about the quality of the water! The most common macro-invertebrate was a “right-handed” snail. These snails use gills to breathe, so they need a clean environment to survive. While the students were testing the water for nitrates, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature, they also took an initiative to begin cleaning it up by picking up any trash they found while they were at the creek.

The Harpeth River is a very unique place because it contains a greater variety of aquatic life than anywhere else in the world! It is also one of the few rivers in Tennessee that is completely free-flowing, allowing the aquatic wildlife to move freely throughout all 125 miles of the river. Rivers only make up 0.0002% of the world’s water. This is why it is so important to keep this extremely valuable resource clean! Not only does clean water lead to a healthy group of people, it also leads to a happy one. Besides the necessities the Harpeth brings us, it also provides opportunities for recreation from paddling, swimming, fishing, and simply enjoying its natural beauty!

We are really lucky to have such a special river running right through our hometown! And now, like the Harpeth Middle School students, you know more about the river, as well.

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