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Currituck County Goes Green
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012
Reduce water runoff, slow it down, and soak it up with plants. This was a central theme in the Currituck Sound Water Quality Fair held recently in the Currituck Rural Center in Powells Point.
Barbara Doll, water quality specialist with Sea Grant and chairperson of the event, is pleased with the interest generated. "Currituck County has worked hard, along with support from Sea Grant and other organizations, to launch an effort to protect its natural resources and reduce waste and energy use. The fair provided an opportunity to celebrate the achievements made so far, as well as the county's vast and vital natural resources."
North Carolina Sea Grant cosponsored the one-day event, along with Currituck County Cooperative Extension, the N.C. Coastal Federation and University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute.
At the fair, visitors enjoyed the waters of the Currituck Sound in brightly colored kayaks. Others talked with extension agents and representatives from various organizations who touted the benefits of delivering clean water to the sound.
Plants, and their abilities to filter water runoff from impervious surfaces were a big draw. Visitors were given water-loving plants, such as mallow or sedge, to plant alongside a pond. The plants provide beautification and filtration benefits, and attract and support wildlife.
Plants also were the star feature in a rain garden demonstration spearheaded by the Currituck Soil and Water Conservation District and the Coastal Studies Institute. Workers and volunteers installed muhly grass, blueflag irises, and other perennials and shrubs in a garden adjacent to an asphalt parking lot. The slightly concave garden will absorb and filter water runoff before it enters the sound.
The N.C. Aquarium in Manteo displayed native wetland plants including ferns and asters. A raffle winner took home a healthy Virginia sweetspire donated by the aquarium.
Children got their hands wet at a N.C. Coastal Federation demonstration. Miniature shoreline boxes showed how rocky shoreline combined with grasses prevents erosion more effectively than a bulkhead. They also simulated how water pollution can find its way to the sound.
Capturing rainwater from your roof never looked so easy. Mitch Woodward of N.C. Cooperative Extension exhibited not only the standard rain barrel, which holds about 50 gallons of rainwater, but also 200-gallon barrels and larger cisterns that can easily be equipped with a pump for washing cars. He explained how cisterns can fill quickly from a 2-inch rain event even on a relatively small roof.
Guests were treated to the memories of Currituck Sound by Wayne Twiford Sr., a 74-years-young Currituck native. Twiford told of days of duck hunting in the marshes along the sound. "We could run up the creeks in a motorboat, the grass beds were thick... now you can't get up the creeks they have eroded so badly," He said. "The grass beds aren't here anymore, they were food for huge rafts of coots which were a staple for local people. He notes that bass fishing was extremely good, "this was the bass fishing capital of the country." Finally, he recounted peaceful nights listening to geese and swans.
Cameron Lowe, Currituck County extension director, informed attendees of how Currituck County is now a leader in environmental stewardship. She spoke of a process that started in 2008 with a survey of residents. Respondents listed the environment as the primary concern for the county. Thus, the Currituck County Goes Green initiative started.
Fairgoers signed the Currituck County Going Green Pledge for Clean Water. Registrants agreed to use minimal fertilizer and rain barrels, plant native species alongside streams and shorelines, and participate in other environmentally friendly activities.
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