Richland County officials are hoping a new shore-scaping project will help educate the public about shoreline conservation and how to prevent water quality damage caused by Canada geese populations.
The Richland County Stormwater Management Division and Carolina Clear, a water resource protection program offered by the Clemson Extension Service, joined recently to revitalize the banks of a stormwater retention pond near Powell Road, off Hard Scrabble Road. Volunteers planted vegetation and installed erosion control blankets to help protect the water quality of the pond.
Geeze find the “golf-course-style” of manicuring areas around bodies of water in South Carolina, which is low-cut grass and no vegetation along shorelines, very attractive to settle on and raise their young, said Katie Giacalone, director of the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence.
More geese means more bacteria-filled fecal matter being deposited around ponds, which then runs off into the water and harms quality. Geese have a digestive system that carries 25 times more bacteria than humans.
“The take-home thing is that any area like that, that creates a predator-free landing strip along a waterway, has the high potential to attract geese,” Giacalone said. “Then people feeding geese deters them from their normal migration pattern.”
Giacalone said the stormwater retention pond near Powell Road was selected to be part of the project because it is becoming shallower. Along with decreasing water levels, shoreline erosion is causing algae problems, while fecal deposits from resident Canada geese populations are allowing bacteria to grow in the pond.
In order to combat the damage cause by geese, Giacalone said they planted a variety of vegetation such as trees, shrubs and perennials around the pond.
Vegetation like button bush, brown-eyed Susans and river birch all do well in wet environments and have extensive root systems that aid in preventing soil erosion.
Synithia Williams, manager of the Richland County Stormwater Management Division, said planting vegetation around the shoreline is a friendly way to deter geese from nesting in the area as well as establishing plants whose roots prevent shoreline erosion.
Williams said Richland County is under more stringent permit guidelines imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency than other counties because of its larger population. It uses several measures to meet the challenge of keeping waterways clean.
“We have specific monitoring requirements looking at ambient water qualities, sediment sampling and macro-invertebrate sampling ... ,” Williams said. “We also look at industrial sites and businesses that handle pesticides and insecticides as well as looking at dirt runoff that comes off of dirt roads and goes into water systems.”
Giacalone said people will be able to see the growth of the vegetation and revitalization of the Powell Road-area retention pond in coming years, which will bring the quality of life back to the pond for fish, hummingbirds and algae.
She said she hopes the project will give others ideas on how to conserve bodies of water on their properties.
“We really want to give people the hands-on information to be able to replicate this project,” she said.