Protecting Delaware’s Natural Resources through Community Involvement

Posted by Katherine Adami

Delaware’s Adopt-a-Wetland program is a “grassroots, community-based environmental stewardship program,” that was developed to enhance the public’s awareness of wetlands. The program gives volunteers the opportunity to help monitor and protect these resources while also educating others about their importance. In 2009, KCI employees in Newark, Delaware, joined the program and adopted Bellevue Pond, or “Big Pond,” which sits on the 328-acre Bellevue State Park in Wilmington.

Over the years, we have teamed up with local residents, organizations, schools and other supporters to care for and watch over the pond. Working so closely with these groups has not only been beneficial to the community, but also to us as consultants and water quality professionals.

Earlier this year, Cab Calloway School of the Arts reached out to Bellevue in hopes of designing a program for current high school students to develop their own water quality studies in the park. We offered to meet with the students and park employees to aid in the beginning stages of development for the study and to share our experience at the pond.

After sitting with the students for an afternoon, it became clear that they were not only interested, but were also smart and knowledgeable about water quality. We explained to them how our professional work on stormwater management was related to Bellevue Pond and their study, and shared our knowledge on how common pollutants found in Delaware waterways affect water quality. At the end of the day, the students decided to study reasons why there had been a recent decline in fish at the pond. Using our experience, we were able to suggest research questions and testing parameters that might help them to reach a conclusion.

Being able to share our experience and make a local connection continues to enhance our perspective on how we are all connected. Most of the students live in Wilmington and visit Bellevue recreationally, so they recognize the importance of keeping Big Pond free of pollutants. By having the opportunity to talk to students and residents about the importance of water quality, we can come together and assure that we have a common goal in protecting our state’s natural resources.