Sag Harbor Village Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy visited science teacher Kryn Olson’s fifth grade science lab at Sag Harbor Elementary School on October 10 to discuss current projects to address the village’s waters and environment.
The students are currently researching everyday activities impacting their environment, such as noise from leaf blowers, lighting in the trees and, perhaps most important, pollutants in runoff water that dump directly into the bay.
The fifth grade classes will be helping the village and the environment by installing signs around town that identify “runoff water” areas. The students will be stenciling the storm drains with the words “don’t dump — direct to bay!”
In addition, the students will be doing “cleanup” walks around town.
Currently, the students are doing research on the amount of energy and noise that leaf blowers use. The research will support new village laws that limit the amount and times that leaf blowers can be used in the village.
Mayor Mulcahy, whose two children, Colman and Kerrie, both attended the Sag Harbor Elementary School, said her goal is for Sag Harbor to become one of the greenest villages on the East End.
Projects underway include installing filters and screens on Long Wharf to stop cigarette butts and litter from landing in the water, a drive to be fertilizer-free, planting gardens to bring the bees back, and, hopefully, establishing the first police force in Suffolk County with hybrid cars.
Another important project uses “big sponges” to filter out oil, gravel, cigarettes and debris from water flowing downhill into the bay.
The mayor explained to the class the importance of rain gardens, explaining that they not only capture and treat rainwater runoff but also serve as a habitat for local wildlife, such as butterflies, insects and birds.
Rain gardens contain standing water for only one or two days, Ms. Mulcahy said in her handout to the students. Whereas the mosquito reproduction cycle takes seven to 12 days to complete. As water filters into the ground and the rain garden dries up, any mosquito eggs are destroyed before they ever have a chance to mature into larve. Also, rain gardens attract dragonflies, which eat mosquitoes.
Fifth-graders also are getting a hands-on perspective of the local water flow using a TopoBox. By moving sand around, they can create different geographic formations and watch the water move through and collect in various watersheds.
Ms. Olson and the mayor encouraged the class to share their own ideas, such as involving local businesses in awareness campaigns and adding extra garbage cans in high traffic areas.
Mayor Mulcahy extended an open invite to the students to visit her at Village Hall to continue the discussions.