Pathway to Water Quality takes first step in 2010
Douglas –The Pathway to Water Quality exhibit is a new attraction making its debut on the state fairgrounds this year. Designed as an outdoor classroom, the exhibit combines the efforts of multiple agencies, landowners and community citizens to implement voluntary measures to enhance and protect Wyoming’s water resources.
Completion of the project will take several years, but demonstrations for children and adults will be held during the 2010 state fair.
“We started the pathway in front of the Agriculture and Natural Resource building and will have a courtyard there. Demonstration sites will look at different ways to manage and protect water quality. They are designed as take-home demonstrations that can be applied to a variety of situations in both rural and urban environments,” explains Southeast Wyoming Coordinator with Wyoming Natural Resource Conservation Service Grant Stumbough.
The entire pathway will be constructed using a new material known as drivable grass, which is comprised of little blocks of pervious concrete. Grass or sand can be placed between each block, hence the name. Below the top layer is six inches of gravel and below that is six inches of sand. The pathway is designed as a filter to absorb excess water that would otherwise run off. Upon absorption, the gravel and sand filters the water rather than it simply running off into the river.
“When complete, the pathway will probably be about half a mile long and the entire path will be made using drivable grass. In addition to acting as filter, the pathway will guide people along a myriad of water quality exhibits and demonstrations complete with informative signs at each stop. There will be several wetlands and retention ponds for the cleaned water to flow into. Trees will be planted and grass plots will be placed along the pathway with information on each grass species, similar to what was previously located in front of the Agriculture and Natural Resource building. We have a variety of project and demonstration ideas to consider and implement over the next ten years,” notes Stumbough.
The project is funded in part by a $20,000 Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) grant and has currently been pre-approved for a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) offered through the NRCS in the amount of $84,000. Donations from industry participants are also being utilized and Stumbough says more people are becoming involved all the time.
A plastic mesh called Eco-grid is anther product similar to drivable grass that Stumbaugh is excited about for livestock producers.
“This is a product designed for use where there is a lot of livestock traffic and manure, such as corrals. Below the mesh are about six inches of gravel and six inches of sand. You can also plant grass right over the top of the mesh. It acts much like drivable grass in that it absorbs and filters excess fluids instead of allowing them to run off, thus converting it to clean ground or surface water,” explains Stumbough.
“The whole idea is to prevent excess water from becoming run off and being wasted. With these products if it absorbed, cleaned and re-used,” he adds.