Share This Page

Haine Middle School concept gets township approval

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Rachel Farkas | Tribune Review
Fifth-grader Sean Holby, 11, of Cranberry, presents information to Cranberry’s Board of Supervisors about Haine Middle School’s storm drain stenciling project.
The opening slide of Allison Stebbins’ students’ presentation shows examples of stencils for the storm drain painting project the student proposed to Cranberry’s Board of Supervisors Feb. 26. by Rachel Farkas

Some environmentally conscious fifth-graders from Seneca Valley are partnering with Cranberry to make residents aware of the connection between storm drains and clean drinking water.

Allison Stebbins' gifted-support science class at Haine Middle School proposed painting signs using stencils onto residential storm drains to ensure people know that whatever they dump there will enter the watershed.

“It really came out of their own inquiries and their own interests to educate people that whatever goes into the storm drains is not going to the water treatment plant — it's going straight to Brush Creek,” Stebbins said.

The students presented their proposal to Cranberry's Board of Supervisors last week and got unanimous approval to move forward.

Cranberry's water supply comes from the Ohio River, which is fed by the Beaver River and Brush Creek. Tim Schutzman, Cranberry's waterworks coordinator, said although Cranberry's watersheds have always passed inspections, it's important to raise awareness.

“Some people don't realize that the storm sewers are separate versus sanitary sewers,” Schutzman said. “If you put oil or grease in the storm sewer system, it's going directly into Brush Creek or Coal Run. It does not get filtered out later.”

The focus of Stebbins' class is on water contamination and conservation, she said. The storm-drain stenciling project is the next step in extending classroom learning to the community.

The students were inspired to act by the Jan. 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries, a coal-processing plant in Charleston, W.Va., which contaminated drinking water for more than 300,000 people, and the exceptional drought in California.

“There are several places, like West Virginia, that didn't do something like that and ended up having their drinking water contaminated,” said Zach Garcia, 11, of Cranberry.

“I can definitely imagine that happening to us as a community, and that is what we're trying to prevent,” said Sean Holby, 11, of Cranberry.

The township will pick up the cost for the stenciling, which should be minimal, Schutzman said.

Zach and Sean said they're most excited to see how people will react to their signs once they're on the storm drains.

“I'd like to see how people would take this once they saw the signs and if they would stop dumping contaminants into our storm drains and potentially polluting our drinking water,” Sean said.

Stebbins hopes to start painting in late spring. If all goes well, she'd like to continue the project with future classes.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.