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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Beautification: a solution to sewage overflow

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When it rains excessively, the sewage from homes flows into the waterways, polluting local rivers and streams. With more than 60 sewage system overflows each year because of Indianapolis’ outdated sewage system, Black and brown communities experience higher incidents of E. Coli and salmonella poisoning.

One solution to the problem is trees. While trees filter carbon dioxide from the air and provide shade in the summer, they can also help reduce sewage overflow in rivers and streams throughout the city. The roots of trees suck up the rainwater while the canopy of the tree slows the rainfall. This can effectively lessen the amount of rainwater in the sewer system, thus lessening the amount of sewage in rivers and streams.

Beautification is an attempt at restoring the environment that has undergone constant alteration by humans. The process of beautification enhances the appearance of a neighborhood, town or city, but this continuous process calls for more than making an area appear aesthetically pleasing.

The partnership with Citizens Energy Group, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful Inc. (KIB) and the Indianapolis Department of Public Works will plant 10,000 trees by 2025 to help combat issues of sewage overflow.

Trees can prevent sewage overflow, and they are also beneficial to people’s emotional health.

“Trees also help our mental ability, being happier and focusing better,” Stephanie Schuck, a restoration ecologist at Marian University, said.

Street trees and grassy medians influence people’s self-reported health according to a study conducted in New York by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Urban greenspaces, also known as pocket parks, are small public park-like areas in urban locations with trees, grass and other vegetation. Schuck believes having natural spaces in urban environments are important because they help people build a connection with nature.

Schuck said having safe and readily available greenspaces is vital to the urban environment because it allows people living in urban areas to hear birds and see trees, native plants and tall grasses, something that may be scarce in an urban environment.

The creation and maintenance of greenspaces contribute to the solution of sewage system overflows and can impact the community.

When the community comes together to pick up trash, plant trees and create greenspaces for their neighborhood they are not only bettering the environment, but they are also strengthening their community relationship.

“It’s not just about beautification,” Joe Jarzen, vice president of programs at KIB, said. “It’s not just about how the neighborhood looks. It’s also about getting people to be interactive.”

Pastor Donald Edwards Jr. recalled the sights and sounds of his childhood while standing in his former Little League Baseball field. The smell of grass lingered in the air. The chirping of birds could clearly be heard over the slight breeze. Insects flew around. Edwards is transforming the baseball diamond into the Legacy Park of Hope, a greenspace for the community.

With a concession stand, a walking trail, a kickball field, new fences, 10 trees and Indiana-native vegetation, the greenspace will be a gathering place for family and friends.

“I want it to be a park like none other,” he said.

Protecting the environment and keeping the neighborhood looking nice aren’t the only reasons to care for your community. Willie Barnes, a volunteer with Great Indy Cleanup, said a clean neighborhood protects children from injuries caused by broken glass and sharp pieces of metal.

“Try to get involved to keep the community clean,” Barnes said.

Contact staff writer Abriana Herron at (317) 924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @abri_onyai.

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