Southmoreland Middle School plans wetlands project

Teacher and student from Southmoreland Middle School aim to resolve issues of erosion and flooding in the Jacobs Creek Watershed area by increasing the biodiversity of run-off near the school.

In the 1960s, severe flooding prompted locals from the Scottsdale region to form the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association (JCWA). With the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the JCWA built three flood control dams:  the Acme Dam, the Bridgeport Dam, and the Greenlick Dam. These dams continue to successfully prevent extreme flooding in the Scottsdale area today. However, the work of the JCWA is not done.  The organization still faces many issues related to the watershed including stream erosion and sedimentation, abandoned mine drainage, and agricultural and industrial runoff. The JCWA seeks to remedy these issues by undertaking a variety of projects. One such undertaking is the Southmoreland Middle School Wetlands Project.

The Southmoreland Middle School Wetlands Project aims to resolve issues of erosion and flooding by providing a drainage area for run-off. Patricia Miller, Executive Director of the project, explains the process: “Heavy and surging storm water flows from residential areas above the wetland area have caused stream erosion and flooding.  These storm water flows will now be directed to the wetland area.  The water will gradually drain through the wetland area and then be conveyed slowly back to the stream, thus preventing scouring of stream banks and flooding.” The wetland will also collect sediment and filter water, preventing damage to the stream.

In addition to addressing run-off issues, the wetland will also serve as a valuable educational resource.  Students of the Southmoreland Middle School have already played a valuable role in its construction.  In the process they learned about biodiversity, watersheds, sustainable resources, and the science behind creating and maintaining a habitat. Instructional signs designed by teachers and students have been placed in the wetland to educate students on the features of this unique environment. The wetland also serves as an outdoor classroom, providing the students with opportunities for hands-on learning of science and biology.

Funding from Spring has allowed the JCWA to increase biodiversity in the wetland. Additional species of plants, flowers, shrubs, and even small trees were selected and planted in efforts to create a diverse and sustainable habitat. Selection of exact species was accomplished with the help of students and teachers in September.

In the years to come, the wetland will continue to serve an important role in the community. Patricia Miller shared her goals for the project, saying, “My hope for the wetlands over the next few years is that it will be used for numerous annual educational programs and outdoor classroom activities.  I have worked with students in many outdoor settings, and being where they can see, feel, smell and touch nature seems to really enhance their learning experience and stimulates their thirst for knowledge.”

It’s clear that the wetland has already had a positive impact on the local environment and community. We know that as the years pass, these contributions will only grow.

Anyone interested in sharing their wetland creation experiences or who would like to help conduct plantings can contact JCWA at or at (724) 887-8220, ext. 3.

Published August 05, 2011