The Town of Hillsborough recently organized a massive litter and freshwater cleanup effort in conjunction with a larger partnership between the town and a group of UNC students to study water sources in the area.
The March 16 event — led by the Hillsborough Stormwater and Environmental Services Division — removed approximately 8,556 pounds of litter from from Bellevue Branch Creek. Thirty-one volunteers assisted with the removal, including a local Boy Scout troop.
The event was one of what are usually annual large-scale litter cleanup projects that the Stormwater and Environmental Services Division organizes. These events serve to get the community involved and educated on potential pollution in the area’s watershed, said Terry Hackett, the Hillsborough stormwater and environmental services manager.
Hackett said one of the biggest concerns is stormwater pollution.
"One of our number one water quality problems in this country is stormwater runoff pollution, or what we call non point-source pollution,” Hackett said.
Hackett said stormwater pollution is more difficult to tackle because it can come from a wide variety of sources.
The cleanup was also part of another project, a partnership between the Town of Hillsborough and a class of capstone students in UNC’s Environment, Ecology and Energy Program, or E3P. The students teamed up with the Stormwater and Environmental Services Division to conduct a watershed study on the Bellevue Branch Creek watershed.
“We thought when this problem came to light of all this trash and debris, this was a perfect way to kick off a larger study,” Hackett said.
Hackett said students collected samples about two weeks ago to analyze and create a report on water quality in the watershed, so the town can better decide what water improvement projects can be undertaken in the future.