Harrisonburg Public Works starts new project to help local watershed

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Harrisonburg Public Works started on a new project in Purcell Park that it says will reduce the amount of algae found in local bodies of water this summer.

Harrisonburg Public Works said once the project is completed you'll barely be able to tell that it was done.

If you are not a fan of that green stuff in the water, neither is Harrisonburg Public Works' storm water management team.

The team said more algae means more nitrates are getting into the water, reducing the amount of oxygen for aquatic animals.

To combat this, the department is working with Ridge of Reefs, an environmental conservation organization, to construct a wood chip bioreactor near Purcell Park Pond.

The project is funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and it will consist of digging a large pit near the pond and filling it with wood chips. Once water passes through the pit, the wood chips will then absorb the nitrogen from the water.

"The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce nutrients that actually go into the Chesapeake Bay," said Wes Runion, environmental specialist with Harrisonburg Public Works. "This will ultimately improve aquatic organisms' life in our watershed."

Runion said the pit will be filled over with grass seeds, making it appear that nothing is even there.

The project will be using wood chips from ash trees that were killed from the Emerald Ash Borer in Westover Park.

Harrisonburg Public Works said the project is slated to be completed at the start of the summer.