The Buncombe SWCD has worked closely with the Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation & Development office in Marshall, NC and Barnardsville Elementary School to plan and install a stormwater wetland at the school. The idea for the project originated with Jessica Hocz, Executive Director of Mountain Valleys, who has been working with landowners in the Ivy River watershed on projects that improve water quality. The stormwater wetland captures runoff from the school parking lot and some grassed areas where the water is detained, cooled, and absorbed by plants. This removes pollutants in the runoff and reduces thermal pollution of the Ivy River, located about 1,000 feet downstream of the school. The project designer was Jeff Young with the N. C. Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Clarke Wyatt with Buncombe County Schools provided contracting services, helped coordinate the project, and provided assistance with several aspects of construction. Erwin High School FFA with Buncombe SWCD planted 325 plants and trees in the wetland. Danna Grimes, the school principal, also assisted with the planning and implementation of the project. Buncombe & Madison SWCD spread mulch with the help of the Barnardsville Elementary Green Team.
Funding was provided by Buncombe County Schools, Mountain Valleys RC & D, and the Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The stormwater wetland not only improves water quality, but can be utilized as an outdoor classroom where students learn about water quality, and wetland environments. SWCD installed a similar wetland at Pisgah Elementary in 2015 and it has become an important part of their outdoor education program.