Groundwork Cincinnati Mill Creek Field Trip

Groundwork Cincinnati Mill Creek Field Trip

By Katie Lehan

Mill Creek

On October 29 and 30, Seton High School’s freshman biology classes  and teachers went on a field trip to Groundwork Cincinnati Mill Creek.  There they learned about why the concrete walls of the Mill Creek were put in and how it helped the city, but also about the problems it causes such as combined sewer overflows and how the city is trying to fix the new issues at hand.

After a big flood in Cincinnati in the 1920s, concrete walls were put in on both sides of the river which formed a “concrete river” and was meant to help stop flooding.  It did just that, only a new environmental problem arose.  Since the walls have been put in, they help water move rapidly down to the Ohio River, but the water also picks up garbage and shoots it down to the river just as well.  Before the wall was put in, the river was all natural, where everything that was put into the river would sink to the bottom and filtrate, but with the “concrete river,” that isn’t the case.  Freshman biology teacher, Ann Jett, said, “A lot of people don’t put into consideration the things we are throwing into our storm drains and sewers, which just adds onto a bigger problem in which I’m sure they aren’t even aware of.  When we have heavy rains, something that is called combined sewer overflows happens.  When the heavy rains hit, not enough water can be filtered fast enough, so the water from storm drains end up combining with water from the sewers and flows quickly down to the Ohio River.”  As a result of this, the Mill Creek and the Ohio River have very poor water quality, which is why the program at Mill Creek is trying to improve that.  Jett goes on to say, “The whole point of the Mill Creek project is to help fix that problem and make the water in both the Mill Creek and the Ohio River cleaner.  They are trying to bring the river back to natural daylight so everything can again soak into the soil at the bottom of the river and filtrate.”

The students did not just learn about the history of the Mill Creek, but they participated in activities at the site as well.  Jett mentioned that since they are studying ecology right now in class, that this is a perfect opportunity for them to do hands on projects as a better form of understanding the material they are teaching in class.  The students collected water samples from stream banks in which the pollution isn’t too terrible and they also took bugs from the poorer quality parts of the site and studied them for in their biology classes to learn about stream biology.


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