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October 23, 20000

Peavine, water issues take center stage

By Eric Rangus

Issues such as Emory's current "green" policies and their effect on the Peavine watershed were just some of the subjects discussed at the Oct. 11 town hall meeting titled, "'And Not a Drop To Drink' . . . A Look at Our Ecosystems," cosponsored by the Office of Community Affairs and the Peavine Watershed Alliance (PWA).

Jacquelyn Anthony, director of community affairs, served as moderator. She and Associate Vice President of Community Affairs Betty Willis both sit on the PWA board, signifying its close ties to Emory.

"Since the University is located in the watershed, it is socially responsible that we be part of the organization that is dedicated to restoring and preserving the ecological balance of the streams flowing through campus," Anthony said.

Attendees included a mix of Emory students, faculty and staff. Georgia state Sen. Mike Polak, state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey and Jacqueline Scott of the DeKalb County Commission were also in attendance, as well as several Atlanta-area news organizations.

The town hall featured several individual presentations ranging from the watershed to the eventual return of Emory's canopy of hardwood tree cover.

PWA Executive Director Patricia Payne White led off, discussing not only the state of the watershed and the importance of preserving it, but the crucial part all citizens of the area–including Emory–play in its protection.

"We need to develop our community-based partnerships to protect our watersheds," she said.

White also looked at the issue from a global perspective, stating that water consumption throughout the world has risen sixfold and 54 percent of the world's fresh water is being used. White emphasized, however, that while the problem of water consumption affects everyone, the best way to tackle it is at the local level.

Anthropology Professor Peggy Barlett discussed the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Stewardship and made a pitch for volunteers for the committee's third ivy pull at Baker Woodlands, Saturday, Nov. 4.

Bob Hascall, senior associate vice president of Facilities Management, and Jen Fabrick, director of Campus Planning, introduced Emory's new "green" buildings, which are being constructed with intelligent material consumption and energy use in mind.

One such "green" project is the Whitehead Research Building currently under construction. Fabrick said one of the building's features is a water recycling system that takes the moisture removed from the air by the building's air conditioner and reuses it for irrigation, cooling and other activities. The result could be a savings of thousands of gallons of water per person per year. Hascall said two other "green" buildings are in the works: Science 2000 Phase II and the soon-to-break-ground Winship Cancer Center.

Other features of "green" buildings, according to Fabrick, are an emphasis on the use of recycled products, prominent placement of bike racks to discourage auto use, recycling of construction waste, and access to natural light for more than 90 percent of regularly occupied spaces.

John Wegner, lecturer in Environmental Studies, discussed his course, "The Ecology of Emory" (ENVS 442). Four of his students then took the stage for a slide show on the past, present and possible future of Emory's vegetation. A major class project is based on a vegetation map of the campus developed by Wegner and FM's James Johnson, which groups all areas not occupied by buildings or concrete into 12 classes ranging from hardwood forest to turf (treeless, grassy area). This map will be used as part of a campus reforestation plan.

Robbin Sotir, a soil bioengineering consultant based in Marietta, presented a 30-minute slide show detailing her work. Soil bioengineering uses natural plantings of trees and shrubs to recover urban waterways and fight erosion and pollution. Sotir's slide show gave many examples of urban streams that had deteriorated to nothing more than stormwater ditches and--through soil bioengineering and time--were reborn as forested ecosystems.

Johnson, a landscape architect in FM, outlined the reforestation plan and creek cleanup project at Peavine Park, which--when complete--will be located behind the CVS pharmacy on N. Decatur Road. The first phase of the project (the creek trash pickup) took place Oct. 14, when roughly 50 volunteers took part in removing trash from the area. The next step will be removal of the non-native groundcover that has choked off native species. The last phase will involve the replanting of native trees and shrubs.

Jimmy Powell, superintendent of roads and grounds, spoke about the Friends of Emory Forest and its work on Peavine Park--specifically the types of trees that will be replanted during the project's final phase. Powell said his organization will work with Wegner and his students to identify sites for future tree plantings.

President Bill Chace gave opening remarks, which included a list of several environmentally friendly Emory policies of the past few years, including the creation of the Lullwater Management Task Force and the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Authority, as well as the Campus Master Plan and debut of the Department of Environmental Studies.

"[PWA] will continue to accelerate the momentum the University has been proud to establish with respect to the natural environment that surrounds us," Chace said before turning the proceedings over to Anthony. --Matthew Harrison contributed to this article



Back to Emory Report Oct. 23, 2000