Wetlands naturally filter stormwater leading to cleaner rivers

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Any time it rains, that water runs into storm drains, picking up trash and debris along the way. City Utilities wants to limit how much of that garbage makes its way into the rivers. One of the many ways they filter those pollutants out is the use of wetlands.

“Wetlands help slow down the water so that the pollutants can settle out. It will capture and filter some of those sediments,” said Jennifer Lash, a Project Manager with City Utilities, “They are important because in areas that flood, wetlands help retain some of that water so those floodwaters have a place to go.”

The constructed wetlands at Camp Scott, located 6 blocks east of McMillen Park, is strategically placed to keep surrounding neighborhoods from flooding after heavy rains. As water flows through Camp Scott, the native plants found on the property help clean stormwater as part of the wetlands ecosystem.

Camp Scott is fed by a 1.7 million gallon storage tank that is under McMillen Park. That is where stormwater from surrounding neighborhoods collects before it is then pumped into Camp Scott.
While the wetlands work to filter the water, debris, and trash from those neighborhoods gets caught up in the wetlands impacting the habitat. While the trash can cause problems with the ecosystem, natural debris also can lead to issues along the way.

“Grass clippings and leaves, both, people think are natural, so they are okay to dump into storm drains or push to the back of your property into a creek,” explained Lash, “They actually put a lot of demand on those creeks, and if you live north of the St. Joe dam where the water filtration intakes the water, those leaves can actually clog the intake for the water filtration plant.”

With more development and focus along Fort Wayne’s three rivers, keeping loose trash and debris out of storm drains goes a long way towards keeping our rivers clean.

“All of our rivers receive some storm flow, so if we keep our trash, our organic pollutants, even pet waste out of storm drains and off the streets, then we are going to keep that demand out of our rivers, where we can then enjoy them and recreate in them,” added Lash.

Later this year local artists will install murals incorporating storm drains, as a part of the Clean Drains Fort Wayne initiative between Friends of the Rivers and City Utilities. The deadline to apply to install a mural is July 10th and details can be found here.

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