Making ‘Sump’ Thing Happen on Earth Day

By Rob Alvey

This year Earth Day falls on Sunday, April 22 and I’m going to make “sump” thing happen. No, I didn’t misspell it. In fact, local storm water basins are referred to as “sump.” And, at the Tanners Pond Environmental Center in Garden City, NY, this year, the 1st Annual Earth Day Run will help raise funds for a solar powered irrigation well.

I remember our first storm basin cleanup on Earth Day in 1995.  I was a recent appointee to Garden City’s Village Environmental Advisory group and faced with the task of creating a “green map” for the community. One of our first assignments was to clean up a storm water basin that had become an eyesore – filled to the brim with trash and tree debris. We elicited the aid of local volunteers and the Audubon Society and transformed nine acres of land and marsh into a local green space, demonstrating environmental stewardship through education and community service.

Besides cleaning up the storm basin and adjacent land, we also raised money for fence repair and landscaping. We overcame lots of natural challenges and some not so natural – like vandalism. Every time one of our birdhouses was knocked over or torn down, we put two in its place. Eventually we wore down the interlopers!

Today more than 10,000 volunteers have been active in this effort. The Tanners Pond Environmental Center has evolved from a bird sanctuary into a community nature preserve including a new Nature Camp program, the Alvey Arboretum, a $55,000 wet meadow funded through the Nassau County Environmental Bond, seating areas, gardens featuring more than 10,000 flowering bulbs and a children’s memorial garden. It is also a favorite destination for the Girl and Boy Scouts.

Looking ahead to our first annual Earth Day Run, in addition to a 3k race, there is also a 1.5k fun run, a 1k obstacle trot and lots of food, music and educational displays. I hope you can join us in the coming years!

About the Author: Rob Alvey is a geologist with ERRD and has been the “hydro” for dozens of Superfund sites involving groundwater contamination. He was co-chair of the EPA’s Ground Water Forum and served a detail as Special Assistant to RA Judith Enck. He is also a Geology Professor at York (CUNY) College and has three grown daughters- all involved with environmental and ecological causes.  In his ‘spare’ time, he writes articles on “daddyhood” and performs as Mark Twain for charity benefits.