About 350 New Albany students in grades 4-12 spent two days last week picking up litter along the Rose Run stream and learning how to prevent pollution in streams.
Their work was part of a joint project between the New Albany-Plain Local School District and city of New Albany to clean up Rose Run and restore the stream's natural habitat.
Linda Pettit, environmental education specialist for the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, told students Oct. 30 and 31 that water runoff from the parking lot at Market Square empties into Rose Run.
She said any litter and anything that leaks out of cars -- including oil and antifreeze -- runs through the parking lot and can empty in the stream through a drain.
"We only want rain to go down the drain," Pettit said.
Bill Resch, the school district's environmental education consultant, explained how the city of New Albany and schools are partnering to keep the stream healthy.
He said water from the Market Square parking lot runs through a natural swale, which removes some of the pollutants before the water reaches the stream.
He said the city and school district jointly received a grant to clean up the area and restore it to a more natural environment.
The city is working to remove invasive species such as honeysuckle, grapevine, privet hedge and autumn olive, which can suffocate plants that help prevent soil erosion and other degradation of the land.
Resch said the grant includes funds to plant natural plants around the small pond at the northeast corner of Dublin-Granville and Fodor roads, on school district property.
It also will pay to extend a swale east of the pond on school district property to filter water going into the pond.
Wetlands on the south side of Dublin-Granville Road also will be improved and a small area that is eroding close to the south side of Dublin-Granville Road will be repaired with heavy rock, Resch said.
The projects are expected to cost $309,000 and will be completed this year and next year.
New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee said the project will use $230,885 from an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant and the city is contributing $78,115 to the project.
Resch said the students' work is part of the education component of the grant.
The grant also includes funds for educational signage along Rose Run. The signs will explain what the grant paid for and how the environment will benefit.