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Springfield, Witt team up on survey

University helps with research that could keep Buck Creek cleaner.

Wittenberg University and the city’s storm water department are teaming up on a survey on ways citizens can help make Buck Creek cleaner.

They’re seeking residents to take the survey as a baseline for future projects, according to Wittenberg geology and environmental science professor Sarah Fortner.

“We’re using to try to further the things that we can offer citizens in terms of letting homeowners know they can have a role in improving water quality of Buck Creek and how they can reduce their storm water bill,” Fortner said.

The research possibly will also be used to help Wittenberg and the city apply for grant money for future projects within the city.

Fortner has worked with students and watershed managers in the past but hopes to reach a much wider audience with storm water techniques.

“We want to directly reach homeowners,” Fortner said.

Sky Schelle, Springfield’s storm water coordinator and a Wittenberg University graduate, said the city’s role primarily will be to use the research for a rain garden workshop, which could be held later this fall.

“We want to tailor the event around (the survey) so we can get as much interest as possible,” Schelle said.

Fortner said research shows residents who use rain barrels or create rain gardens on their properties can greater reduce storm water overflow near streams and rivers. The process is becoming popular in Cincinnati, Fortner said, where low-impact design, rain gardens and rain barrels are being used more frequently to lessen the toll on its aging sewer system.

She hopes similar programs can become popular in Springfield, which is having similar issues with its older sewer system.

“The burden is only going to increase as combined sewer systems get older and they start to leak more,” Fortner said. “One person may not make a difference, but if five or 10 people do it, that’s when you start to see a big impact.”

Residents can take the Keep Buck Creek Clean survey at The link can also be found on the Wittenberg University’s Geology Department’s web page at

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