Environment is the Focus of Future City's Alternative Spring Break

Participants in Future City's Althernative Spring Break  Credits: Lisanny De La Rosa
Warning sign at John's Cove Credits: FCI
Litter at John's Cove Credits: FCI
The DIY manual project team. Left to right: Paulina Diep, Luis Cerino, Mary Geschwindt, and Stephanie Tran. Credits: FCI

ELIZABETH, NJ – Some students head to Fort Lauderdale or some Caribbean island to lounge in the sun during spring break, but another group headed to a different shore, John’s Cove on the Arthur Kill.

As part of the Alternative Spring Break, sponsored by Future City and the city of Elizabeth among other organizations, a group of college students spent long hours testing the waters and measuring the pollution. The group presented their findings at a reception attending by Mayor Christian Bollwage, March 17.

Derrick Agbozo, a resident of Neptune and a junior at NJIT, said, “I had never seen anything like it. I am used to going to the beach, and the water would be clean.”

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Not so at the Arthur Kill, the group that included NJIT juniors Wilson Melendez and Jorge Pereyra, and freshman Ghiday Lamptey, all chemical engineering majors, used underwater cameras to document the pollution. They found a truck tire that had been in the water a long time. They also recorded mussels that were an unhealthy color that might be due to the chemicals in the water.

In other projects, Dwyer Academy senior Lisanny De La Rosa represented the app her group created that would track flooding in the city. As the climate changes and gets warmer, areas that never flooded before will start to, she said.

Part of that flooding problem is storm drains stuffed with litter. Not only is garbage causing flooding, but it also carries bacteria that can get into the water supply, another group found. One the project, therefore, was the creation of a “boom” that would be attached to storm drains in flood prone areas. The booms would provide a low-cost solution that would block debris from contaminating the water.

The booms would also save significant tax payers money. Said Councilman Manny Grova, “The city has the same concept. We have nets that are set up at 14 to 15 feet at the end of storm drains, which catches litter. The cost is astronomical to maintain.”

Finally, a group from NJIT, Luis Cherino, Pauline Diep, Stephanie Tran, and Mary Geschwindt, are putting the final touches on a DIY Emergency, a two-year project. “Sandy was terrible,” said Tran. “With climate change, this isn’t the last disaster.”

Added Cherino, “With Sandy, people didn’t know how to prepare because we are in an area where that sort of disaster doesn’t happen.”

The guide covers topics such as how to administer CPR to how to maintain the house’s structure.

“Homeowners should be more independent and know what to do.”

The group hopes make the manual available to the public.

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