Recycling, Improving Water Quality, and Providing Non-toxic, Chemical-Free Habitats
As part of the recently completed 2nd phase of the Bee Branch Creek Restoration project, 14 floating islands were launched this summer to continue to enhance the area. What are they? Floating islands are a wetland system that improve water quality and aesthetics in a natural approach without the use of chemicals. They are man-made from recycled PET (BPA-free plastic bottles), help clean the water, and create a diverse, non-toxic habitat for aquatic life, wildlife, butterflies, and insects. The islands grow roots that go down 2-3 feet beneath the water and provide a “floating supermarket” for fish and organisms. The islands are beneficial to improving water quality by reducing pollutants such as TSS, nitrogen, heavy metals, and phosphorus, which are associated with odors and algae issues.
The 14 floating islands, modeled after the archipelagos on the Mississippi, range from 68-300 square feet (totaling 2,674 square feet), weigh 600-2,000 lbs., and saved 67,000 plastic bottles from going into a landfill. The islands are anchored to go up and down with the ever-changing water levels in the creek so that the habitats are not destroyed. Each island contains a variety of native plants inserted every 8 inches and will reach maturity in approximately 1 year; however, measurable benefits start within 2 weeks of implementation. Some of the native plants used include Blue Flag Iris, Sedges, Wild Rye, New England Aster, Marsh Marigold, Swamp Milkweed, and Cardinal Flowers. Although the native plants will require occasional or annual clean up, they will survive year round, providing countless benefits to the ecosystem.