10th Annual WEF Community Service Project Leaves a Lasting Mark in the Windy City
As part of WEFTEC® 2017, attendees had the option to participate in the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Service Project to help build an outdoor learning space for students at Manierre Elementary School (Chicago).
“Our mission [was] to not only make an impact on the local water environment but also to educate the community about the value of water and water quality,” said Anthony Giovonnone, the 2017 Service Project chair. “This project inspires us to inspire the next generation of water quality professionals.”
Volunteers spent four to six hours building a green classroom and bioswales that surrounded a playground area. The project transformed a paved playground with poor drainage that makes it susceptible to flooding into a permeable gathering space for students that helps capture and filter stormwater, alleviate flooding, and improve local water quality. After excavation was conducted, volunteers helped fill the area with gravel and soil needed for drainage and then planted native vegetation.
WEF’s Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) hosted the project. This year’s project integrated with another project being completed by Green City Market (Chicago). The local nonprofit plans to build raised gardens to help students learn agricultural concepts and how to, in an adjacent building, cook the food they grow.
The WEFTEC Service Project has grown in both volunteer participation and scope. In 2008, about 60 volunteers helped build an 18.5-m² (200-ft²) rain garden at Pulaski Park in Chicago. In 2016, nearly 200 volunteers helped build a 112-m2 (1210-ft2) bioswale and a 17-m2 (180-ft2) rain garden, and they planted native vegetation. And in 2017, volunteers will help convert about 232 m2 (2500 ft2) of pavement into green space, Giovonnone said.
Leaving some green behind: WEFTEC attendees spent four to six hours helping transform Manierre Elementary School's paved playground into a permeable gathering space for students that helps capture and filter stormwater, alleviate flooding, and improve local water quality.