County initiates pollution solution
The explosive population growth in recent years in Macomb County, Mich., has increased the potential for pollution in area waterways such as the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. In an effort to reduce pollution, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco has developed an educational program to teach students how they can help improve the quality of water resources.
The program, aimed at first- through eighth-grade students, introduces several water resource concepts. Students learn about sources of clean drinking water, wastewater disinfection, underground systems such as street catch basins, how water enters the home, sources of pollution and the role of public works.
After an initial lecture, Public Works employees lead students through a hands-on activity in which they add pollutants to a miniature city complete with an underground drainage system. Each student is given a different task – such as throwing garbage out of a car or pouring oil into a storm drain – to pollute the city.
Two students are then selected as “rainmakers” who pour water over the model to wash pollutants into the catch basins and into the groundwater. Three main drains collect the runoff and empty into buckets representing a stream, a river and a lake, which quickly become polluted. Students then discuss possible solutions to the pollution problems in the model city.
“Having the visual element of seeing their little city polluted really helps the students learn,” says Public Works employee Kristen O’Reilly. “They realize how each individual action adds up.”
More than 8,200 students have attended a total of 250 demonstrations in Macomb County schools since the program’s inception last year. The Public Works Department also has developed an educational video about water pollution problems and recycling programs. For more information about the pollution program, contact O’Reilly at (810) 307-8266.