A collaborative effort of Dare County Schools, Town of Manteo, North Carolina Coastal Federation, Dare County Soil and Water, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albemarle RC & D, NRCS, Albemarle- Pamlico National Estuary Program and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute has lead to a constructed wetland project at Manteo High School. Manteo High School is located just north of downtown Manteo, NC and is situated adjacent to Dough’s Creek - which flows directly into Shallowbag Bay. Shallowbag Bay is an environmentally sensitive area threatened by urbanization and point and non-point source stormwater runoff. The Manteo High School campus contributes to stormwater runoff into Dough’s Creek.
The objective of the Manteo High School – Dough’s Creek Access project is to improve the water quality in Dough’s Creek, provide environmental education to the public and to provide a learning environment for students and faculty of Manteo High School. This project will provide students and faculty of the school an opportunity to better understand the natural environments at the land – water interface, and to involve them directly in improving water quality in Dough’s Creek and Shallowbag Bay. Manteo High School currently has no access to Dough’s creek because the buffer area between the campus and the creek is heavily vegetated with native and non-native invasive plant species. This physical separation of the students from these natural ecosystems prevents an understanding of the direct cause-and-effect relationship of development (specifically stormwater runoff) and natural systems.
To improve the water quality of Dough’s Creek a constructed wetland system with boardwalks to physically connect to the environment for observation, education and water quality testing will be created in the middle of the school property. This area will also receive stormwater from the campus site outfall. The wetland location will facilitate water testing directly from the outfall pipe and at the end of the wetland system prior to entering Dough’s Creek. Testing results will provide data on the effectiveness of this constructed wetland. This wetland system will be accessed through a boardwalk that will connect this wetland and existing estuarine marsh areas for observation and study by the students.
A fresh water pond on the Manteo High School site that is used for fire suppression will be bordered by a new fence, and native vegetation will be planted around the fence. The overflow of this pond flows to Dough’s Creek. The students and faculty will have access to this fresh water pond to study the natural systems there and be able to contrast these with the estuarine marsh and creek system of Dough’s Creek. A simple boardwalk will provide access for testing and observation from the edge to the deeper portion of the pond.
Improved water quality for Dough’s Creek and Shallowbag Bay are the primary benefits of this project, along with the educational benefits for the students and faculty of Manteo High School and the general public. Participation in the ongoing efforts to improve the water quality in Shallowbag Bay will engage the students in a community-wide water quality improvement effort and provide examples of responsible citizenship at their school. Public access will provide environmental education to visitors and provide a focus for social interaction related to improved environmental quality.
Students will participate in some areas of design and construction of the wetlands and boardwalks to educate them about professions and trades involved in environmental design, conservation, construction and education careers. Students recently participated in the preparation, construction and installation of a 1200 gallon cistern and 600 square foot rain garden project on the school campus. Dough’s Creek access will help students understand the connection between their campus buildings, the cistern, rain garden and the adjacent natural environment.