Q&A with environmental intern Haley Moser

water_cleanup_qanda

Mali Khan, a North Carolina student and member of UNICEF, volunteers to clean up trash at one of six campus storm water outfalls. Photo Courtesy of Haley Moser.

Haley Moser is a junior environmental science major on the quantitative energy track who interns at the UNC Department of Environment, Health and Safety. Moser hosted a stream cleanup Saturday at a stormwater outfall on South Campus. 

Senior writer Leah Moore spoke with Moser about what goes into a stream cleanup and why streams are important.

The Daily Tar Heel: What sorts of things do you do at a stream cleanup?

Haley Moser: The Department of Environment, Health and Safety hosts one each semester to fulfill a requirement. When we get there, we have a bag for trash and one for recycling. Basically, whoever said they would come, we all just walk down to one of the six campus stormwater outfalls and pick up whatever trash is there.

They’re usually in, not secluded areas, but areas that are kind of off the road. I think people go down there to hang out sometimes or whatever. There’s always trash and whenever trash comes through the storm water, it ends up piling up.

So we go down there and make sure all the bottles are cleaned up, there’s nothing blocking the outfalls, that everything is clean and safe for the environment.

DTH: What do you do at your internship?

HM: I host these stream cleanups every semester, so that’s the biggest thing. At least once a month, but I try to do it once a week if I’m not too busy. I’ll go around to each of the outfalls and inspect the water quality of them. I have worksheets that I use that ask things like if the water is cloudy, what pH it is ... While I’m there I’ll pick up trash.

If the water quality is bad, which happens sometimes, after large rains or during football season, I take pictures and let my bosses know, because they are the stormwater managers for the school. If they need to do any emergency clean-up, they’ll get that sorted out.

DTH: Why is it important to clean the streams?

HM: For so many reasons. It’s our resource, it’s what we use for water. It needs to be clean for the vegetation, for all the ecosystems. The fish and the frogs and life that live in the stream need it to be clean.

Different species can only handle so much pollution before it’s not viable for them to live anymore. To me, because I study it and I enjoy it, it seems like a no-brainer. If it’s clean, that means that there’s no pollution coming through the system, so that means we’re all doing a good job taking care of the resource we have.

Water seems infinite because you just go to a water fountain and get your water and it’s fine. With the water crisis we had last semester, people obviously freaked out because they couldn’t have water. That was due to a pollution issue, partly. If the water isn’t clean, then we don’t have that resource, so it’s important for all life that uses water, pretty much.

DTH: Who went to the cleanup?

HM: This semester, UNICEF is coming to do it. Last semester, EcoReps came to do it. Basically I just get in contact with leaders from different groups and ask who wants to come. I’ll post a flyer about it in the UNC Facebook pages, but usually it’s just groups because it’s on a Saturday morning, and people don’t want to get out of bed. EcoReps makes it a requirement that their members do three service events a semester, so that was a way they could get people to come.

DTH: Where was the cleanup?

HM: There’s a big outfall in a wooded area right in front of the Dean Smith Center. It’s called the Dean Smith outfall.

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