Liberty holds second annual Star Talk on sustainability

Claire Good, News Editor

The second annual Star Talks for environmental awareness was held in the PAC on March 20th, and hosted three guest speakers as well as two Liberty students. The presentations were held to explain a popular topic in sustainability today: storm water pollution.

“We try to bring in guest speakers who are experts on their topic, and give them each about ten minutes to speak. It’s really interesting, but it’s not very long—there is a lot of information packed into each presentation. Our hope is that you learn a whole lot about the topic.” Principal Josh Almy said about the Star Talks.

The objective of the Star Talks was to teach students about the impacts of storm water pollution and what can be done to alleviate those impacts. Liberty Ecosquad member Lorrin Johnson (11) spoke to the school about how rain can be soaked into forest floors, but not impervious city streets. The rapid development of cities can force storm water polluted by sewage, motor oil, garbage or fertilizer into the Puget Sound and some of Washington’s lakes.

A second Ecosquad member, James Ricks (11), spoke about the city of Newcastle’s Storm Water Management Program. He explained how buildings in Newcastle obstruct the flow of water, and polluted water often finds its way to Lake Washington. Newcastle taxes businesses that use a lot of impervious pavement, giving a break to places with low-impact construction.

The guest speakers were Christine Kramer, a community relations planner for King County Wastewater Treatment Division, and Greg Hilnardo, who specializes in civil engineering for sustainable systems. They informed the audience about how Seattle’s sewer system needs to be more effective at preventing pollution. By reducing the amount of storm water overflow, less waste could reach the Puget Sound.

“Perhaps the most creative solution is called Green Stormwater Infrastructure, or GSI. GSI takes storm water out of the sewer system and allows the storm water to slowly soak into the ground,” Kramer said. “Sound familiar? GSI simply means installing rain gardens into lawns and roadsides to collect runoff naturally.”

King County Wastewater is now putting in 92 individual roadside rain gardens in front of houses, bringing in almost 100 new trees, and almost 75,000 new plants.

“We are trying to mimic, in the midst of this urban streetscape, the kind of natural conditions that used to exist,” Kramer said.