The city of Delaware will celebrate its connection with the local river this weekend.
The fourth annual Northern Olentangy Watershed Festival will take place at Mingo Park, 500 E. Lincoln Ave., from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. The event will features 18 groups to provide activities and information on different aspects of the watershed, which is a land area where surface runoff water drains into a specific body of water.
“The No. 1 thing we want people to take from the festival is stewardship” of the watershed, said Collin Smith, the city’s watershed/sustainability coordinator.
The Olentangy River Watershed flows about 93 miles from its headwaters near Galion to the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. It drains 543 square miles in Crawford, Richland, Marion, Franklin, Delaware and Morrow counties.
The watershed provides drinking water, recreation and other public goods to more 250,000 residents, according to a 2007 report from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The state agency’s survey identified habitat alteration, flow alteration and contamination by pathogens as some of the primary causes of the watershed’s impairment.
The Ohio EPA will monitor the watershed in 2018.
The river is the Delaware’s primary water source. The city treats and distributes an average of nearly 4 million gallons per day to more than 12,00 customers.
In Ohio, the sharpest growth was in Delaware County. Since 2010, Delaware County has grown by 12.8 percent to 196,463.
Smith said new developments increases the amount of impermeable surfaces, which can lead to pollution for surface water, flooding and other issues.
Smith said residents can help the watershed by installing rain barrels and gardens at their homes. The festival will provide more information and have a raffle to give out eight 55-gallon rain barrels painted by students from Mount Gilead and Big Walnut schools, Smith himself, and V&P Hyrdaulics of Delaware.
Rain barrels help collect water that residents can use to water plants and other ways to reduce water usage.
The coordinator replaces Kristin Piper, who took a similar position with the in-the-works Evans Farm living community. Smith has a degree in ecological engineering from the University of Minnesota with a focus on streams and wetlands and their impact from development.
Additionally, the Now Festival will also give out conservation awards to an individual, business and government. The recipients are Paul Olen, Shade Tree Commission chairman and Dempsey Middle School teacher; ECO Center in Caledonia, Ohio; and Preservation Parks of Delaware County.
“The City of Delaware shows that it is mindful of and grateful for our natural environment by not only qualifying and participating as a Tree City USA but also by celebrating the wonderful source of water that is our northern Olentangy River watershed,” Olen said.
He said much appreciation for organizations such the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Delaware and Morrow counties’ Soil and Water Conservation districts.
“There are many landowners in our watershed, who never get noticed or recognized by the general public, who work hard to keep their land and streams healthy and ecologically strong. It is to these anonymous land owners that we should extend our profound gratitude. Their stewardship helps everyone in the watershed,” he said.
The event had about 350 people attend last year, according to Smith.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.