Special to the Opelika Observer

The City of Opelika has just reached the halfway point of its yearlong journey in developing a watershed management plan for the Pepperell Branch, a project made possible through partnerships with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Auburn University, Keep Opelika Beautiful and many other local organizations and institutions. At the heart of this plan is the assessment, protection and preservation of our local water resources.

As a part of this plan, there have been many noteworthy developments. One such item is the recent environmental fair, held in conjunction with Keep Opelika Beautiful’s Citywide Cleanup March 2.

Hosted at Opelika’s Shady Park, this event provided citizens exposure to many environmental activities. Booths showcasing these activities explored: aquatic insect identification, non-point source pollution, watersheds, pet waste, recycling, litter, freshwater fish species and bee-keeping. After having fun at the environmental booths, participants left to help with Citywide Cleanup. In total, more than 30 citizens attended the fair.

Additionally, new pet waste stations have been installed at the old railroad depot and Shady Park. These stations will now allow Opelika residents and visitors to explore amenities with their furry friends in an environmentally conscious way. The importance of one cleaning up after their pet cannot be overstated. Pet waste left on the ground carries many harmful pathogens that get transported to streams and creeks during rain events. These pet waste stations, and other existing units, all help to reduce the presence of harmful bacteria in the city’s water systems.

Be on the lookout for more events, meetings and opportunities to be involved. The easiest way to stay updated is by following the City of Opelika and other partner organizations on Facebook, or visiting the Pepperell Branch Watershed Partnership homepage cses.auburn.edu/eve-brantley/pepperell/.