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Ask Us: Why hasn’t city drained swamp on Jake Alexander Boulevard?

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

SALISBURY — A reader asked why a swamp on city property, viewable from Jake Alexander Boulevard and Harrison Road, has not been drained.

Michael Hanna, stormwater technician with the city of Public Services Department, said he has a different view of the property.

“It’s actually a huge asset to the city,” Hanna said. “It’s a really cool and unique ecosystem.”

The swamp started out as a beaver pond, Hanna said. Now, it’s a wetland recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The website of that federal agency is clear in the benefits of wetlands.

“Wetlands provide a multitude of economic and social benefits,” it reads. It goes on to note that along with providing habitats for plants and animals, wetlands “recharge groundwater, reduce flooding, provide clean drinking water, offer food and fiber, and support cultural and recreational activities.”

The city owns 2 acres of the 10.9-acre wetland.

The wetland has the important role of removing pollutants from the stormwater that drains from an industrial park. This is especially important as the water goes on to drain into Grants Creek, Hanna said.

The wetland improves water quality and prevents erosion into Grants Creek.

The property is also the home of white-tail deer, two otters, ducks and other waterfowl, Hanna said. Right now, the Wood Duck banding project is partnering with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to do work in the wetland because it is home to so many migratory birds.

Hanna says in all the time he’s spent on the wetland, he doesn’t usually get bitten by mosquitoes because a kind of fish that lives there eats mosquito larvae.

“A lot of people don’t know about our water here in Rowan County,” said Hanna. It is such an important resource that the city does not have plans to drain it.

He is looking forward to celebrating Rowan Countys’s upcoming Creek Week, which begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 24. It will include some stream cleanups, but no activities at the swamp. Hanna hopes to have more studies on the property by Livingstone and Catawba colleges  as well as tours of the property.

“We have great water here in Salisbury,” he said.

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