Past Watershed UGA Projects

Lake Herrick

John Dowd, professor in the Department of Geography, Todd Rasmussen, professor in Warnell, and Dave Radcliffe, professor in Crop and Soil Sciences, conducted research on stream flow, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, heavy metals, fecal coliform, atmospheric conditions, and temperature on Birdsong Creek and Dead Armadillo Creek, both of which are tributaries to Lake Herrick, as well as by the Lake Herrick dam and just downstream of the Upper Pond.

Dr. Susan Wilde, Assistant Professor in Warnell, monitored harmful algal blooms in Lake Herrick with her students.

The Lake Herrick watershed has also been the site of several independent undergraduate research projects, including a recent Warnell Senior Project investigating sites for pet waste receptacles and options for renovating the Lake Herrick beach.

Floating Wetlands in Lake Herrick

Sarah Hensey, an undergraduate student, along with Aaron Trimble, Cody Matteson, and Jordan Noell Francis received a $5000 UGA Sustainability grant to design and install floating wetlands in Lake Herrick. Floating wetlands are a natural way to filter excess nutrients. The wetlands are made of a buoyant material and anchored to the lake bottom. Swamp sunflower, irises, river oats, and white star sedge are planted on the islands to filter out nutrients from the water; the plants should also attract beneficial microbes to reduce harmful bacteria in the lake. They were installed near the bridge in Lake Herrick with the help of student and faculty volunteers. They were placed near stream inflows in an attempt to filter out some excess nutrients from storm water runoff before the nutrients could make it to the rest of the lake. The student team worked on getting the plants established and monitoring water quality parameters in Lake Herrick.

Volunteers help repair trails behind Stroud Elementary

Stroud Elementary School was awarded the 5 Star EPA Grant with help from Watershed UGA for use in the Stroud Elementary School Creekside Trail Restoration and Education Project. The project restored a 3/4 mile creek-side trail, 4,500 ft of riparian habitat, and 48 acres of forest to improve water quality and aquatic/terrestrial habitat at Trail Creek. The grant also helped create three outdoor classrooms to host associated curricula in water quality monitoring and protection, plant and animal life and its interaction with the watershed, the function of wetlands, and educational and career opportunities in the field of environmental protection.  

Stroud Elementary serves a diverse community including children from farms, suburban subdivisions, and urban neighborhoods, including federal housing. Over 96% of Stroud students may receive free and reduced meals from the National School Lunch Program, and 94.7% of students are of an ethnic minority. Trail Creek runs in the forested hillside behind the school, a stream which due to urban stormwater runoff, remains impaired. Along the stream is a long-abandoned trail. Most Stroud faculty were unaware of the trails existence until early 2017. The trail was littered with felled trees and branches, and is often obscured by invasive species; a bridge and boardwalk were in serious disrepair, and the riparian zone and surrounding forest were covered in privet.

With aid from University of Georgia graduate students, Stroud’s 4th and 5th grade international award-winning problem-solving team developed a plan for the restoration of the trail and surrounding forest. With expert input from federal and local environmental agency partners, these students developed a detailed plan for three outdoor classrooms including benches, signage, and curricula. These classrooms address the natural resources on site and strategies for their protection including control of nonpoint source pollution and stormwater management practices. Fifteen different community partners provided expertise, physical aid, and more resources to this venture.