Introducing Caroline Wofford

Hello everyone! My name is Caroline Wofford and I am an AmeriCorps service member serving this year as the Stormwater Education Coordinator for the Clean Water Education Partnership (CWEP). I was born and raised in Chapel Hill and spent much of my childhood playing in the creeks and streams of central North Carolina, so these issues are near and dear to my heart.

I recently graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, California with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, and a focus in atmospheric and environmental chemistry. During my time at college, I was able to deepen my understanding of environmental science, while also learning also how science, policy, and human behavior come together to inform how the environment and natural resources are utilized. Throughout my education, I have often felt that science is inaccessible, and that there is a lack of effective means to communicate scientific concepts and findings to a non-technical audience. This hinders both general public understanding and effective evidence-based policies. I want to help get people of all ages excited about science as a way of understanding the world, rather than just a subject in school.

I am thrilled to be back home in the Piedmont, working to bridge this gap through clean water education. There’s so much we can do to help keep our water clean, especially regarding stormwater pollution. I can’t wait to work with communities across the state to protect our water, so all North Carolinians can enjoy a healthy environment for generations to come!

Passionately Promoting Clean Water through Work and Recreation | Terry Hackett, Town of Hillsborough

In this interview, CWEP educator Hannah talks with Terry Hackett from the Town of Hillsborough stormwater department. Terry’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all avid fly fishermen, which has influenced Terry’s involvement with his local chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Triangle Fly Fishers, as well as his career in stormwater. Learn more about how Terry dovetails his passion for fly fishing and his career to advocate for clean water in North Carolina. Thanks, Terry for helping to advance this important work in all that you do!

To get involved in the Fly Fishing community, you can visit the Triangle Fly Fishers webpage or find your local chapter of Trout Unlimited!

Downtown Revitalization and Why I Love Working for Local Government | Interview with Scott Miles, City of Rocky Mount

Tune in to the latest Water Leadership Series Interview, where CWEP educator Hannah talks with Scott Miles, stormwater engineer from the City of Rocky Mount. Scott shares about how his experiences with water resources from childhood to being an undergrad student at NC State University helped shape his eventual career path. Scott also details a new downtown revitalization project happening in Rocky Mount, in which the stormwater department is a key player. We hope you enjoy hearing from Scott as much as we did!

Streets to Creeks Stormwater Art Competition

When? August 5-September 5th, 2020

Who? Open to all ages!

To celebrate National Water Quality Month, the Clean Water Education Partnership invites you to create an art piece that shows how you interact with your watershed. A watershed is an area of land that all drains to the same creek, stream, or river. Everyone lives in a watershed!

Your art piece must somehow incorporate the name of the watershed you live in. Type your address into this interactive map to find your watershed.

Or, you can discover your river basin (a larger-scale watershed) by looking at this interactive map.

 Get inspired by a few of these ideas:

  • Use non-toxic sidewalk chalk to draw a watershed message to others in your neighborhood
  • Create a poster with cool facts and photos from your watershed that you can share with others
  • Draw or take a picture of one of your favorite plants or animals in your watershed
  • Make a sculpture out of litter you find in your watershed

A stormwater art installation that doubles as a rainwater harvester (Binford Green Schools Initiative, Chesepeake Bay)

“Protect our Watersheds” art competition submission (Pennsylvania American Water)

 Your art piece can be in any medium you choose as long as you can take a photo of it.

Winners will have a photo of their art piece featured as the homepage header on the CWEP website and receive a CWEP Swag Bag with fun giveaways in the mail. Art will also be used by CWEP to create a set of greeting cards for our fall BioThon competition. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be chosen weekly.

This competition is open to all ages. Children under 13 must have an adult submit their art piece.

Art can be submitted through this google form. If you have any questions please contact Hannah Barg, the CWEP Education and Outreach Coordinator at hbarg@tjcog.org.

Biking the Watershed

During this time of social distancing and working from home, we have had some beautiful weather! A few weekends ago, I ventured out to explore the Neuse River Basin via 25 mile bikeride. As a new resident of North Carolina, I was impressed with Raleigh’s greenway system which follows several tributaries of the Neuse.

I began my journey along the Crabtree Creek Trail. Crabtree Creek starts in Cary and flows through Lake Crabtree County Park, Umstead State Park and sections of North Raleigh before eventually joining the Neuse near Knightdale. The Crabtree flows through a rapidly developing area in a historic flood plain, which means that even light rains can cause the creek to flood. Evidence of this along the Crabtree Creek Trail include several washouts where sediment has been deposited.

The Crabtree Creek Trail joins with the Neuse River Trail at Anderson Point Park. This was a busy section of trail due to proximity to parking and residential areas. I took a quick rest stop at Anderson Point Park to enjoy the view.

The Neuse River Trail joins up with the Walnut Creek Trail where the Walnut Creek flows into the Neuse River. This section of trail was the most adventurous and scenic, featuring several roller-coaster like bridges and boardwalks that run through the Walnut Creek Wetland Center, Lake Johnson Park, and Worthdale Park. A few lookouts along the way are great places to stop and search for waterfowl, turtles, and other wildlife.

The last section of my bikeride was on the Rocky Branch Trail, which weaves amoung neighborhoods, wooded areas, and more urban stretches. This trail takes you through Dix Park and ends with a gorgeous view of the Raleigh skyline.

This short weekend adventure helped me see my watershed with new eyes. I gained a new appreciation for the role that greenways play in protecting our state’s water resources, connecting folks to outdoor spaces, and managing stormwater. If you’re interested in learning more about the positive benefits of greenways, you can explore The Impact of Greenways in the Triangle document written by the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

How have you been exploring your watershed during social distancing? Drop a comment in the box to the left to share your story with us.

Water-Based Distance Learning Activities

With the increase amount of school, workplace, library, and community space closures, you might be looking for some ideas to pass the time with your children. Here are some water-based/ STEM activities to pass the time while learning about water.

  •  Go on a water scavenger hunt! Using the image below, make a checklist or take photos of the following items to keep track of what you find!

water scavenger hunt

  • Sidewalk water painting. Sidewalk painting can happen with paint brushes and water, too! Watch in fascination as your designs disappear slowly because of evaporation. This is a great opportunity to begin teaching younger children about the wonders of the water cycle. This activity is best done on a sunny day.
  • Is it raining outside? Take your child on a rainy day walk! Follow the water from the gutters to see where it ends up. What did you find along the way?
  • Teach your child about the water cycle using their bodies through water cycle yoga. Visit this link if you need some inspiration for how to facilitate it!

water cycle yoga

(Image Courtesy of Durham Hub Farm)

  • Make your own mini water cycle using a to-go or old food container with a clear top. Fill the container with rocks, grass, plants, and other found items, mist with a bit of water, set in the sun, and see what happens!
  • Does your child like to color and read? Learn about stormwater runoff with the Stormwater Sleuth and Running Rain activity book put together by University of Nebraska- Extension. This activity book is geared towards 4th-8th grade students.

For a complete list of activities and online resources, please visit the new Distance Learning page

Capture It! Enter Raleigh’s Annual Stormwater Arts Contest

Are you or someone you know a creative Raleigh student? Help us spread the word about the City of Raleigh’s annual stormwater arts contest! By entering this contest, students explore the powerful intersections of art, messaging, stormwater education, and community engagement. Winners receive a $500 prize and recognition as a 2020 Raleigh Environmental Award Winner. 

Who: 8th-12th grade students in Raleigh area schools

What: a video or artwork entry showing how to reduce stormwater pollution and protect local waterways. Artwork should be designed to fit on a storm drain or rain barrel.

When: submissions are open until February 3rd, 2020.

How: Register here on the City of Raleigh site. This page also has more details about submission requirements.

Need some inspiration? Click here to watch the video entry winner from last year’s contest.

Image result for storm drain artwork Image result for rain barrel art

Image result for storm drain artwork

Above are some examples of creative stormwater messaging painted on storm drains and rain barrels. If you want to make your own storm drain art design, be sure that it fits within the required dimensions (23.5-inch diameter round or 62.5-inch x 14.5-inch rectangular)

Image 1: City of Raleigh website

Image 3: RVA H20 (Richmond, VA) website

Image 4: WLWT5 News (Cincinatti, OH) website

Image 5: City of Lubbock, TX website

Traveling Back in time on the Neuse River

CWEP AmeriCorps member Hannah has been hard at work developing stormwater/ watershed curriculum geared towards high school students for direct education visits in member communities. Based on an Environmental Justice timeline activity she did at the National Environmental Justice Conference in Washington D.C., Hannah developed a “History of the Neuse River” timeline. During this interactive lesson, students work in small groups to match photos with their corresponding event and attempt to put the events in order. This activity is meant to familiarize students with their local watershed and give context for the specific water quality issues in their river basin. The lesson is designed to be general enough that students throughout the Neuse River Basin can use it. Hannah is in the process of creating a similar timeline for the Cape Fear River Basin in addition to creating lesson continuations that teachers can use in the classroom.

Accompanied by members, Hannah will be piloting this lesson at South Granville, East Wake, and Holly Springs High School the first week of December.

To see an interactive electronic version of the timeline, please visit the following link:

History of the Neuse: Full Timeline

Below is the summarized version of the timeline, for quick reference.

neuse river timeline updated 11.26 photo

Stormwater Management in Extreme Events

Dr. Bill Hunt’s talk at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh on August 9th focused on the historic flooding hurricanes NC has seen in recent years, and what that means for stormwater management. We all remember when 6 feet of water stood on I-40, making Wilmington was an island and closing 3200 roads statewide. Our highways were (in theory) designed for the 1/500 year storm event, but Florence was a 1/2000 year event in Wilmington.

An NCDOT staff member in the audience shared that they worked with NC Division of Emergency Management and the Navy (yes, the Navy) to ensure that Wilmington had adequate supplies. Looking forward, DOT is working with the National Weather Service and others to stress-test our highway system, as well as learning from Louisiana’s experience during Hurricane Katrina to study bridge span vulnerability (many bridges went out during Katrina due to wave action.)

So what does this mean for stormwater management using green infrastructure? Stormwater managers know that green infrastructure has been designed to effectively treat moderate-sized rain events. How can stormwater BMPs / SCMs safely convey or pass larger storms, while still meeting their treatment goals? Dr. Hunt said that we will probably need to design our SCMs to be a bit bigger and made out of more durable materials. Thinking more broadly about green infrastructure, he also emphasized the need for preserving lands that routinely floods as public amenities. Designing parks, ballfields, or urban agriculture areas that can survive being submerged and somewhat battered in storms will allow us to “live with water” better.

Dr. Hunt and others in the audience also emphasized the importance of breaking down our institutional and subject matter silos. Stormwater, transportation, and emergency managers–and developers–can learn from one another about how best to manage risk and maintain the resilience of the systems where we work, play and live.

How are you designing your SCMs and planning land use for extreme events? How are your partnerships with other managers evolving? Leave a comment below about what’s helping you solve these challenges we all face.

And That’s a Wrap! FY 2019 Highlights

Kids cleaning Enviroscape

We finished up our Outreach and Education for the Fiscal Year 2019- and what a year it has been!! We interacted with over 3,000 individuals in CWEP regions over the course of the previous ten months on all things stormwater. A total of 146 hours were spent administering, leading, or aiding in programs across the state! The age range of our audiences ranged from Pre-K-Adult for all events and programs. In addition, we reached our main goal of aiding in or leading a program for all 37 of our member communities throughout the year- meeting both Public Participation & Involvement and Public Outreach & Education NPDES MS4 Minimum Measures. While we reached all 37 communities, a total of 71 programs, events, and meetings took place with about 1-3 visits/member.

Focused educational themes included the water cycle, macroinvertebrates, litter/trash, pet waste, lawn waste, fertilizer/pesticides, household waste, and vehicle pollutants. Check out our program and service menu guide here to learn more about the services we can provide you!

Programs and events ranged from libraries, schools, farmer’s markets, festivals, fairs, workshops, summer camps, Boys and Girls Clubs, scout groups, Parks & Rec programs, YMCA’s, training high schools, and more! CWEP also had several meetings with our member representatives about future events and how CWEP can aid their communities going forward.

We can’t wait to see what 2019-2020 has in store for us! Check out some images from the fun we had this past year here! Also, keep checking back in for our Annual Report FY19 which will be published on our Public SharePoint archive site in the near future. Enjoy the rest of your summer and we will see you soon this fall!