Two public cleanups planned this month for Hogtown Creek


Hogtown Creek flows through the Mason Manor neighborhood in this March 19, 2011 file photo.

Brad McClenny / The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.

When it rains, the trash and chemicals left on sidewalks and streets are washed into the stormwater system and sometimes end up in the waters of Hogtown Creek.

But residents have a chance to help clear out the creek by aiding a cleanup effort coordinated by Current Problems, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting North Florida's water resources.

Current Problems began the cleanup in early March. The public can help out this Saturday and on April 27. Saturday's cleanup will take place behind the Lowe's at 2564 NW 13th St. in Gainesville, and the April 27 one will be at Forest Park, 4501 SW 20th Ave. in Gainesville. Both events start at 9 a.m.

Current Problems focused on cleaning up Hogtown Creek because it is the best-known one in the Gainesville area, said Fritzi Olson, the nonprofit's executive director.

The project aims to clean up as much of the creek as possible, although it is limited to spots that are publicly accessible. The cleanup is running from the creek's headwaters to Forest Park, where the second public event will be held.

Hogtown Creek eventually drains into the aquifer by way of Haile Sink, Olson said. Floridians draw their drinking water from the aquifer, which illustrates the importance of taking care of the state's water sources, even though much of the trash that reaches the creek probably doesn't make it underground.

Some trash is thrown directly into the creek, but most of it comes from stormwater runoff.

"There was a time when people did dump a lot illegally into waterways, but you don't see as much of that now," she said.

So far the cleanup has been going well. As for what trash has already been pulled from the water: "Nothing horrendous so far," she said. "And on the other hand, plenty worth picking up."

Cleanup efforts like the public events Current Problems is hosting this month give people a firsthand look at why water is a resource worth protecting, said Stacie Greco, water conservation coordinator for Alachua County.

It is important for residents to remember how their actions can impact the quality of Hogtown Creek and other bodies of water due to the impact of stormwater runoff, Greco said.

When it rains, materials like extra fertilizers, trash or leaking motor oil run into the storm drains and travel to the creeks from there.

"We really like to teach people that what they do on their yards and in their businesses can affect the creeks," Greco said.

For more information on stormwater pollution and ways to reduce it, Greco suggested visiting www.alachuacountywater.org.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com.

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