Janet Roessler and Caryn Canfield both moved to the Rock Creek area to be closer to the water.
But neither of them expected some of the problems they would soon face with their waterfront homes.
“There are sections of the creek that have an advisory against human contact,” said Canfield. “There is a recommendation by the Department of Health that they not enter the water.”
Roessler said her experience was similar.
“Our neighbor, who is also from the [Washington] DC area, moved here and got a staph infection on his leg from the water. My other neighbor said when he was a kid he would swim in the creek all the time. It isn’t like that anymore," Roessler said.
The issues with swimming in Rock Creek inspired Canfield to start Restore Rock Creek, a nonprofit group focused on taking steps to improve the creek's water quality.
Canfield, who works for IBM and Siemens, started the nonprofit two years ago, and is now focusing on getting the word out about the organization’s initiatives. An important goal for the group is addressing the problem of stormwater runoff into that creek, which can create bacteria.
“To help, people can simply plant native plants in the yard,” Canfield said. “These plants have larger roots and help filter the water before it goes into the creek.”
Canfield’s yard has a variety of plants and rain barrels to help control stormwater runoff.
Roessler has recently gotten involved in Restore Rock Creek and is organizing monthly happy hours for people who want to get involved.
“I was one of the first kids who was celebrating Earth Day, and I used to walk around and pick up trash in my woods. I think that’s why I got involved,” said Roessler. “It is caring about the earth, and it is also just seeing it.”
Restore Rock Creek is seeking more volunteers to organize activities and help with various environmental initiatives.
“People who are interested can reach out to us on the Restore email link; join us on Facebook; participate in our monthly happy hours; or come to community meetings,” Canfield said. “If people are interested, then pick up a project and start working with people around them to spread the information.”
Restore Rock Creek is asking people to begin taking their own initiatives to help the creek. Many things can be done to help, and getting involved with the group can be the first step.
“There’s probably a lot of people who feel helpless and hopeless and this is an organization of people who are willing to step forward and start making things happen,” Roessler said. “It is important for people to know that doing a little tiny bit is better than nothing.”
Restore Rock Creek’s next happy hour will be on June 12, with the location still to be determined. They are also hosting a community meeting on June 7 at the Riviera Beach Library.