Tonawanda News — DiGiacomo explained that Eighteenmile Creek’s pollution is the result of PCBs, lead, copper, aluminum, DDt and other chemicals and metals that were released directly into the creek. He noted that there were few environmental laws in place more than 100 years ago when much of the pollutants were released.
Today, Eighteenmile Creek is “one of the most toxic ecosystems” in the Great Lakes.
“These chemicals don’t go anywhere,” DiGiacomo added. “They will have an impact for a very long time.”
The creek is one of roughly 1,700 superfund sites across the country. Its ranking on the list is fairly high, he added, based on a risk factor: Nearly 45,000 people visit the creek and harbor every year.
Trout in the Classroom, along with the guest lectures, help students understand the complexity of the ecosystem, Meyers said, pointing to nonpoint pollution — such as agricultural runoff — and its effect on water.
“You wouldn’t see fertilizer from a lawn or gas spilled on the roadway enter the creek,” Meyers said, “but all these little bits combine to have an effect. Students learn to minimize what’s getting into the environment. By watching the fish grow, they become aware of conditions that affect the ecosystem.”
This was the first year that Newfane participated in the program. Meyers said the district’s Parent Teacher Student Association played a crucial role in helping to obtain the equipment needed to launch Trout in the Classroom. Along with the Styrofoam-packed aquarium, a special machine that keeps the water cold was purchased.
“I hope to keep the program going,” Meyers said. “Now that I have the equipment, it’s inexpensive to keep going.”