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A group of UVA students has been working hard this summer in Chesapeake Virginia, helping to construct a floating laboratory/education center to help educate students and the public about the impacts of water pollution on the James River (and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay), the importance of wetlands, and the importance of sustainable technologies. Due to their efforts the “Learning Barge” is becoming a reality and is set to be launched in mid September. This student team competed and won both a P3 grant and a P3 Award from EPA in 2007.
The UVA students are designing and fabricating this floating environmental education field station and are using “green” sustainable technologies to power the center and treat its waste water. The Learning Barge will be powered solely by site-based solar and wind energy systems. The 32’x120’ barge will support a contained bed wetland that filters grey water and creates habitat. The barge will publicly exhibit the sustainable technologies used for the renewable energy and water purification systems that demonstrate energy independence and pollution reduction.
The project is in partnership with The Elizabeth River Project (ERP), a non-profit environmental group whose mission is to clean up the Elizabeth River, one of the most contaminated estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. The Learning Barge will travel between four major cities (Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach) while monitoring and teaching about ongoing sediment remediation, pollution prevention and restoration projects. It is anticipated that over 19,000 K-12 students and adults will visit the Barge each year. ERP and their partners, including several public school districts, NOAA and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will operate the Learning Barge.
Myles Henderson of Newsplex.com, (a Charlottesville tv news web site) ran a story on this group of UVA students as they spent their summer building the Learning Barge, and readying it for its launch in mid-September.
View Learning Barge Video from What Matters with Cathy Lewis
For more information:
- P3 Grant Project Description: The Learning Barge: Environmental + Cultural Ecologies on the Elizabeth River
- Elizabeth River Project