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City interns work on environment

Springfield implements rain barrel and tree programs.

Two interns have spent their summer to help Springfield be more environmentally friendly.

Wittenberg University seniors Margaux Empey and Beth Wilson looked into what other cities have done to change practices.

As part of an internship with the city of Springfield, Empey and Wilson implement two programs and inspected oil-water separators in restaurants and stores throughout the city.

Empey and Wilson helped the city launch a rain barrel program and a tree program.

The Springfield Department of Engineering and National Trail Parks and Recreation District are coming together to sell 50-gallon rain barrels at a discounted price of $60. The original price for the rain barrels is $119.

The barrels are made from 50 percent recycled plastic.

By purchasing rain barrels, residents can receive a 50-percent discount on their next stormwater bill for family condominiums and homes with at least 100-gallons of rain barrel storage, according to the handout.

Residents can use the runoff from the barrels for lawns and gardens, Empey said.

The deadline to order the barrels is Sept. 15, and pick-up is Sept. 21 from 8 to 11 a.m. at National Trail Parks and Recreation District, 1301 Mitchell Blvd.

Barrels can still qualify for the stormwater utility discount if bought elsewhere.

Visit for more information about the program.

The tree program allows residents to plant trees in small or large green spaces. Residents are not permitted to plant the trees on any part of the right of way and are limited to one tree per property.

Residents who take the time to plant a tree can receive 75 percent off their stormwater utility bill. Call 800-362-2764 two days before the tree is planted.

The city didn’t intend on getting both programs up and running this summer, but the interns were successful making it happen.

“We would have never been able to do it without the help of Margaux and Beth this summer,” said Sky Shelle, city stormwater coordinator.

They also inspected oil-water separators. According to a handout from Springfield Stormwater Utility, it’s suggested to inspect the oil-water separators underneath restaurant kitchen sinks monthly. Other separators beneath parking lots, or green space that sits between sewer lines and buildings, require periodic separator maintenance.

The oil-water separators are “connected to the sewer system,” said Wilson. “If grease gets into the sewer system, it will cool off and solidify.”

By maintaining the separators, it prevents backups in the city’s sewer systems.

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