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News and events from Knox County Stormwater Management.
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Strong Streams Newsletter
Winter 2020
East Knox Elementary School

Natural Learning Area
Outdoor classrooms. You may have heard of them, you may even know a school that has one, but why are they important? Although it may seem odd to let children be outside during a school lesson, outdoor learning has been shown to increase student engagement and performance long after returning to the classroom. Having more outside learning time can also help children to be healthier, less stressed, and more connected to their communities. This is especially true if an outdoor classroom is accessible to the larger community, like the Halls Outdoor Classroom at Halls High School or the soon to be refurbished Natural Learning Area at East Knox Elementary School. Knox County Stormwater staff have been working with the school and community members over the past several months to spruce up the  space in time for its official re-opening this Spring. The outdoor learning space will feature pollinator gardens with native plants, “critter hides” where students can learn about decomposers, and a nature trail. The outdoor classroom will serve as a space for students to explore the natural world as well as a focal point for the community. We can’t wait to see what else is in store for this project in the months ahead!
What’s wet, wild, and wonderful for all ages? Why, Waterfest of course!!! We at Knox County, along with the Water Quality Forum are currently in the process of planning the annual Waterfest. This Kindergarten to 3rd Grade event will bring together local water experts with the goal of entertaining and educating our students. We are already expecting 800 kids from a wide range of schools, both public and private!  You can find us at the Ijams Nature Center on May 4th during one of two sessions, one from 8:00-11:00 am, and the other from 11:30-1:30 pm. And while this event is K-3, the accompanying poetry and art contest is open to students grades K-5. This contest gives local students, even those whose schools are not attending Waterfest, the chance to express themselves creatively. In this contest, students are challenged to create and write pieces that best reflect this year’s theme; From Mountain to Fountain. Winners will be honored at Waterfest, with the winning art being featured on the official Waterfest 2020 T-shirt. All competition entries must be submitted by April 1st, and can be dropped off at Ijams Nature Center. If you know a creative kid who may want to get involved, you can contact us at americorps@waterqualityforum.org for more information.
April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme for Earth Day this year is climate action. “Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.” This year, Knox County Stormwater is partnering with Pellissippi State Community College to bring a series of screenings of Hidden Rivers to our community during the month of April. We will have showings at all four campuses in the county: Hardin Valley, Division Street, Magnolia Avenue, and Strawberry Plains. Hidden Rivers looks at the aquatic diversity and the threats to the aquatic ecosystems in our own backyards. We will have an array of Earth Day vendors and a Q&A after the screening, which will provide you with valuable information on how you can take action to help protect our rivers and our climate. Can’t wait to see you there!  For tickets click HERE!
Tennessee RiverLine Project

The Tennessee River flows for 652 miles from Knoxville, TN to Paducah, KY flowing through Alabama and Mississippi along the way. The Tennessee RiverLine Partnership has a vision to turn the Tennessee River into a continuous trail system that connects people and communities to the river and to each other. The project will also create economic opportunities and encourage healthy lifestyles in Tennessee River communities. The Tennessee River, and its tributaries, is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, this project also seeks to reestablish people’s connections to nature and to help our communities understand the unique problems this region faces. With a fresh connection and understanding of the river, our communities will be better equipped to help protect this rich landscape. Ultimately, this project will transform our communities and the river’s landscape through a strategic investment in our economic, social, and environmental infrastructure. Find out more information about the project and how you can get involved here!
 
Rain Garden at North Knox Library
 
Knox County AmeriCorps members assisted the University of Tennessee’s Hydrolunteers, Engineering Graduate students, and Dr. Andrea Ludwig with construction of a rain garden at North Knox Branch Library this past November. The library had been experiencing drainage issues near its front doors for some time making it a perfect candidate for a green infrastructure solution! The new rain garden will help direct stormwater away from the building and allow for greater infiltration into the ground. In addition, it makes an attractive addition to the library’s entrance. Thank you to everyone who helped make this project a reality! To learn more about rain gardens, visit our website at https://knoxcounty.org/stormwater/pdfs/raingarden.pdf.
Catch up with us
 
Roseberry Creek:  Knox County Stormwater and our partners have been having success with repairing septic systems in the Roseberry Creek watershed. To date, we have repaired 12 septic systems, with five more currently being repaired. We have also connected three properties to the sewer system. On the agriculture side, we have completed three farm best management projects, with two more currently in the process of installation. Overall, our initiatives in the watershed are beginning to have a positive impact on water quality, and we expect even greater things ahead.

Stock Creek. In the Stock Creek watershed we have also seen some improvements toward water quality. In 2019, we have repaired 10 septic systems and connected two properties to the sewer system. We’ve also been very active with education and outreach activities including a successful Farmers’ Breakfast. As for the new year, we have already repaired two septic systems and have one agricultural project approved and ready for implementation. It’s already shaping up to be a great year for Stock Creek.

 
2019-2020 CAC AmeriCorps members serving at Knox County Stormwater.
From clockwise from top left: Adam Weinzapfel, Briana Gladhill, Connal Boyd, and Ali Goodman.

AmeriCorner
 
The primary duty of the Knox County Stormwater CAC AmeriCorps members is to provide assistance to county staff in carrying out Knox County’s mission to provide our citizens with essential services, while exercising professionalism, enthusiasm, and creativity in the workplace. Here is a brief look at the Team's accomplishments, current projects and what they are looking forward to in the second half of their term.

Hey all! My name is Adam Weinzapfel. One accomplishment of mine that I am particularly proud of is developing a method of surveying the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Campus. This survey allows us to inspect areas on the campus that are prone to pollution and record whether action is required. This inspection helps us keep pollution from reaching neighboring Second Creek, and creates a means of tracking our progress towards making our workplace even more environmentally friendly. 
At this time, I am assisting East Knox Elementary in their revitalization of the outdoor learning area by producing marketing materials to encourage the community to get involved. My goal is to produce a quick and informative video that explains the outdoor learning space at the school, and the many benefits that this opportunity offers to East Knox’s students. We believe that by bringing nature into the learning environments of these children, then we can help them be healthier, both physically and mentally, while fostering an appreciation for our natural environment.
I am currently involved in the planning of this year’s Waterfest, whose theme is ‘From Mountain to Fountain’ (A theme that I came up with). This yearly event helps give our youth the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into nature, while teaching environmental principles in an active and entertaining way. This festival, along with the art and poetry contest that accompanies it, not only acts as a welcome means of education, but as an opportunity for creative expression and fun. Learn more about Waterfest in the article printed in this newsletter.

Hello! My name is Briana Gladhill. One of my and Ali Goodman’s big accomplishment’s this year was developing an educational framework to go along with the children’s books that last year’s AmeriCorps Team created. We researched different methods of presenting on the water quality materials that were covered in the books, which include activities from Project WET, DIY craft activities to reduce plastic, and the BEETLES method (which gets children outside and out of the classroom). We hope to bring these lesson plans to classrooms throughout the county and also have developed curriculum for teachers to convey the material themselves.
Currently, I am working on updating Knox County’s Flood Insurance Brochure. The goal of this update is to make sure that our resident’s know that anyone in the county, regardless of if they’re in the floodplain, can have flood insurance. This is incredibly important in this area due to the increasing number of flood events and the fact that more than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside of the flood zone.
I have had the great pleasure of helping to plan Knox County’s Earth Day event this year. In partnership with Pellissippi Community College, we will be having a series of screenings of the film Hidden Rivers. I can’t wait to see all the hard work pay off and to bring this incredible film to the community! Find out more information here.

Hello! My name is Connal Boyd. My biggest accomplishment so far has been my involvement with Knox County Stormwater Management’s dry weather screening program. This program seeks to locate and prevent illicit discharge such as dumping of used oil into catchbasins from entering county waterways. I have inspected 104 pipe outfalls so far this year, and I have planned several hundred additional inspections across 11 watersheds in Knox County.
I am currently assisting with the creation of a computer model that will allow Knox County Stormwater staff to better assess the health of watersheds around our county. When completed this model will be a great resource for prioritizing areas in need of restoration or protection!
I am looking forward to seeing the completion of the East Knox County Elementary school outdoor classroom project! I have been working with Knox County Stormwater Management and School staff to re-vamp the outdoor classroom behind the school and I’m excited to see the progress we will make in the coming months!

Hey everybody, Ali Goodman here. In December, we helped with rain garden construction in front of the North Knox Branch of the library. The entire construction of the rain garden happened in only two days. It was incredibly rewarding to be a part of the progress and to see how much can get done with a group of dedicated volunteers.
A main focus of mine is coordinating the routes and parking for each crew’s weekly stream survey. Visual stream assessments is a great way to get outside and get some hands on experience in the streams across the county.
This winter has been pretty mild so far, but I cannot overstate my excitement for spring and all off the fun outreach events we have planned. The next couple months are gearing up to be filled with stream cleanups, education events, and water quality festivities. I can’t wait to enjoy the warm weather by being out and about with the lovely people of Knox County. Specifically, the events on my mind, are Waterfest, Families in the Creek, the East Knox Elementary Natural Learning Area Celebration, and Cheers Clean Water Paddle-Off.

 
Visit our website at knoxcounty.org/stormwater to learn more about our programs and where to get your questions answered. Visit our Facebook page to keep up to date on all the latest happenings on the streams of Knox County.
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Knox County Stormwater Management 
205 W. Baxter Ave. 
Knoxville, TN 37917
Email: Stormwater@knoxcounty.org
Website: knoxcounty.org/stormwater/strong_streams
Phone: (865) 215-5540
Copyright © 2016 Knox County Stormwater, All rights reserved.


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Knox County Stormwater Management · 205 W. Baxter Ave. · Knoxville, TN 37917 · USA

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