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Allen students get behind-the-scenes view of John Bunker Sands Wetland Center
Ereckson Environmental Club members Atticus Raymond (left) and Michael Conroy collect and evaluate water samples taken from John Bunker Sands Wetland Center.
Regional wetland project reuses and cleans local wastewater naturally
By Michelle Harlan
Allen, TX (Feb. 23, 2013) -- Ereckson Middle School Environmental Club (EEC) members got a rare behind-the-scenes look at John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville, Texas, as a result of a grant from the Foundation for Allen Schools. EEC members visited the 2,000 acre man-made wetland area to learn about the unique site where wetland habitat naturally cleans and reuses water from the East Fork of the Trinity River.
“It was very interesting to see how wastewater can be turned into clean water by using plants and even creating a beautiful habitat for birds and other wildlife,” said Gabby Perez, eighth grade leader of the EEC. “During our visit, we saw many beautiful herons, egrets, pelicans and many other birds enjoying the wetland area.”
Wetland plants are often considered important to water quality for their biofiltration, or ability to remove contaminants from runoff water that eventually ends up in local creeks and lakes.
While at the site, EEC members collected and evaluated the quality of water samples taken that day from the Trinity River and the final stages of the natural water treatment process provided by the wetland plants. They also got a rare behind-the-scenes look at the two locations where water enters the wetlands from the East Fork River and the end site where machinery pumps water to Lake Lavon for ultimate reuse by the public.
The East Fork Wetland Project is funded and constructed by the North Texas Municipal Water District. After seven to 10 days in the wetland, a pump station then transports the cleansed water through a 43-mile pipeline north to Lake Lavon for storage, additional treatment and delivery to the municipal water supply.
“By examining how precious runoff water may be naturally cleaned and reused using wetland plants, these students are learning about important ecology concepts and water conservation issues affecting our community,” said Laurie Merrick, a science teacher and advisor to the Ereckson Environmental Club.
The club’s field trip was funded by a grant from Foundation for Allen Schools, which supports classroom innovation and provides educational opportunities for Allen ISD students and teachers. Through grant support, EEC members have also worked on habitat restoration projects at the nearby Connemara Conservancy Meadow Preserve, including its new wetland habitat, and are studying the many ways communities can impact the quality and availability of clean water resources.