The City of Delaware will hold its first Watershed Festival, tentatively scheduled for June 21 at Mingo Park.
The announcement was made at a recent City Council meeting by Director of Public Utilities Brad Stanton. The Public Utilities Department was awarded a grant of $4,923 from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF).
“The grant is to provide educational materials for the festival,” Stanton said. The legislation states “several organizations and volunteers will lead activities to promote awareness of environmental issues and promote best management practices of the watershed.”
“Booths will be on sediment control, rain garden demonstrations, we’ll have volunteers taking groups down to the Olentangy River, discussing water quality aspects of the Olentangy and the benefits it provides the City of Delaware,” Stanton said. “We’ll also plan to purchase plants that help with water filtration to remove sediments before it gets to our streets that will be available to the public that they can install in their home.”
The grant application states that anticipated collaborators will be the City of Delaware, Olentangy Watershed Alliance, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Keep Delaware County Beautiful, Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Watercraft, Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, Sustainable Delaware, and Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s website said, “The Olentangy River watershed provides drinking water, recreation, agricultural drainage and other public goods for over 250,000 watershed residents. Its waters and habitats are home to unique and diverse communities of fish, mussels and other aquatic life. Recent studies document declines in its water quality and stream habitat. Among the most visible and widely publicized threats to the Olentangy’s water quality and habitats is the conversion of farm and forest acreage to residential and commercial land uses at an exceptionally rapid pace.”
The Ohio EPA said the Olentangy River system drains Delaware, Ohio’s most rapidly populating county; while its most rapidly developing townships - Delaware, Liberty and Orange - overlap the river’s State Scenic River section.
Stanton said 15 grants were submitted and nine were approved. The Ohio EPA said the OEEF is administered by the Office of Environmental Education, “awarding up to $1 million annually in grants for projects targeting pre-school through university students and teachers, the general public and the regulated community.”
Depending on funding and attendance, the festival could become an annual event.