photo of uah pond with the shelby center in the background

UAH’s retention ponds hold drainage flow from campus until water can naturally drain into McDonald Creek.

I recently sat down and talked with Green Club President Rachel Suhs about stormwater pollution. One of the Green Club’s most successful events is their Pond Clean-Ups.

The two ponds in front of the campus on Sparkman Drive are actually retention ponds. Everything on UAH’s campus ultimately drains into these retention ponds before entering an unnamed tributary to the McDonald Creek. Pollution and litter often gets carried with stormwater into the greater environment. The retention ponds at UAH can serve as a bottleneck for the pollution to the environment pipeline.

UAH's stormwater pollution prevention program is here to remind us that each of us has a role to play in making sure our water stays clean for use and recreation. This stormwater program promotes environmental stewardship in support of the University mission.

If you want to learn more, please feel free to contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or the Sustainability Coordinator to find out ways you can get involved.

Q: This article is done as part of an education and outreach initiative for our Stormwater Management Plan. What would you like for the UAH community to know about stormwater pollution?

A: Stormwater is very important and more relevant than we think. Wherever pollution takes place not only affects where it happens, but also down drainage systems and into bodies of water. If you pollute in Michigan or Montana, that pollution will be carried through the Mississippi River Basin and make its way down to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.

Q: The Green Club has done quite a few pond clean-ups over the past few years. What inspired you to organize this event? Why not just stick to regular litter pick up on dry land?

A: When I became president, Pond Clean-Ups were already one of Green Club’s events. It is a good way to get service hours. Cleaning up the whole campus is a hard job with the amount of people we have, but we can do a good job cleaning the lakes with our current turnout. Also since they are retention ponds, most of the campus drains to the ponds and they can become really concentrated with pollution.

Q: What are the most commonly found items during your pond clean-ups? How should they be properly disposed of?

A: Cigarette butts, plastic wrap (chip bags, snack foods), plastic beverage bottles, cans. These should be recycled when possible, and thrown away when not. There are plenty of bins around campus for both recycling and trash.

Q: What is the weirdest/strangest thing that has been found during a pond clean-up?

A: We find a lot of shoes. At least one shoe each cleanup, never matching. This year we found a wicker basket. We also found a bra. I try not to ask questions or think too much about how it got there.

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