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Better stormwater buffering at Bennett’s Creek

More than 20 volunteers from the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance and Colonial Pipeline Co. worked in the dirt with Suffolk Parks and Recreation in the drizzling, overcast morning at Bennett’s Creek Park on Thursday.

They finished their water-protecting additions to the park by noon with help from the cloudy conditions, NRPA President and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Taraski said.

“It was an ideal temperature,” Taraski said. “Having overcast worked out well.”

Volunteers planted four new rain gardens and reinforced four existing ones with fresh mulch and new plants to replace dead ones. A total of 80 additional plants livened the park on Thursday, featuring native varieties like wax myrtle and bald cypress, Taraski said.

These gardens will reduce rain runoff from the parking lot as the plant roots go deeper and absorb more storm water over time. The native buffers will also serve local wildlife, Taraski said.

“They’re native to this area, resilient and part of the whole ecosystem,” she said. “This will help the birds and butterflies and all the other wildlife associated with it.”

Eighteen of the volunteers were Colonial Pipeline Co. employees from the Suffolk office, other Virginia offices and even as far as Atlanta, Ga. Their efforts are part of the Colonial Cares initiative for reinvesting in communities in which the company operates by supplying first responders with equipment and training and collaborating with environmental groups.

“We want to get our employees out there to really engage and see what they’re protecting out there,” said Colonial Pipeline Co. communications manager Ryan Rogers.  “We’re proud of the kind of person that works for Colonial.”

The company’s 5,500 miles of pipelines crosses 11 states from Houston, Texas, to Linden, N.J. Line 27 crosses the Nansemond River in Suffolk.

Rogers said there is a shared interest in making this collaboration with NRPA an annual tradition.

“Whenever they need employees and help next year, we’ll be there,” he said. “We’re going to work together to make sure our operations in Virginia are great.”