At a new nature center in Greenwood, children will be able to conduct water quality experiments, learn about how different types of pavement surfaces affect water runoff and see how water quality benefits the environment.

The Stormwater Testing Lab and Nature Center, set in a wooded area along South Washington Street on the south side of Pleasant Creek, was created by the Greenwood Stormwater Department and will be free for schools and other educational groups to use, department director Chris Jones said. The city will be able to use the site to give tours, lessons and experiments about water management and the environment, he said.

The stormwater department purchased the site for about $57,000 in 2014, and has used the two buildings there for storing equipment, Jones said. Part of the federal requirements for stormwater departments is that they need to offer public education and outreach programs, and this site will fulfill those responsibilities, he said.

Officials hope to expose children to how the water cycle works, Jones said.

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The forested area and creek is the perfect location to offer lessons about water management, Jones said. Testing and monitoring water quality is a primary function of the stormwater department, which keeps an eye on more than 400 locations throughout Greenwood where water runoff enters rivers, streams and lakes, he said.

Children can learn about the importance of environmental stewardship from an early age, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.

To fund the project, the stormwater department received a $5,000 grant from Pig Difference, a nonprofit that funds wildlife preservation projects. Local companies and organizations also donated time and supplies, and city stormwater employees volunteered time to develop the nature center, he said.

At the nature center, steps lead down to Pleasant Creek for easy access to the waterway, a mulch path winds its way through a variety of trees and plants that have signs with information about how those parts of the ecosystem impact the water cycle, bird-houses for wood ducks and bluebirds, and visitors can see examples of types of pervious pavements, which allow water to pass through to the ground.

The center will be available for lessons year-round. Groups interested in setting up a visit should contact the stormwater department at 317-887-4711.

At a glance

The Stormwater Testing Lab and Nature Center in Greenwood is now open and offering a place to learn about water management and the environment. The center will allow students to perform experiments, such as water quality testing, and learn about the water cycle and how it is impacted by development and the ecosystem.

Where: 225 S. Washington St.

Who can use it: Schools and other educational groups

Cost: Free

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.