Partnerships do make a difference. The cooperative efforts of key players have led to a ground- breaking Stream Restoration Construction project in Jasper, Alabama. In January, The City of Jasper received a $500,000 grant to improve eleven-hundred linear feet of Town Creek that runs from the 18th Street bridge to beyond the 1939 historical footbridge.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management provided the grant that funded the project. The grant was awarded to the city and Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc. Improvements included more pools and swift-flowing areas in the urban stream, an enhanced floodplain and the addition of a stormwater wetland to be used as a learning environment for Maddox Middle School students.
Town creek was channelized, or straightened, in the 1940’s. In the
1970’s, much of the floodplain behind Maddox Middle School was filled
in to be used for parking. Channelization interrupts a stream’s natural
flow by making it straighter, filling it and/or altering its width or
length. The EPA reports that channelized streams are more prone to
bank erosion and flooding, and have decreased water quality and species
diversity. North State Environmental, a North Carolina company that
specializes in stream restorations, was contracted for the project.
The city of Jasper contributed in-kind labor and equipment.
Construction on the project began May 22 and was completed May 29.
Greg Jennings, a professor at North Carolina State University who
worked on the restoration effort, said several changes were made to
Town Creek. “We’ve added a series of boulder and log structures to the
stream to improve the oxygen, the nutrient quality, the ability of the
stream to carry sediment and to prevent excess sediment from getting
into the stream,” Jennings said. A stormwater wetland was also
constructed near Maddox Middle School.
The wetland will improve the water quality in Town Creek because
stormwater that once ran from the school parking lot into the stream
will now be diverted into the wetland before draining into the creek.
The diverse plant and animal life that will be drawn to the wetland
will provide educational opportunities for local students.
“The natural environment that occurs in that stormwater wetland is very
complex. It’s a life cycle that includes plants, insects, frogs,
salamanders, turtles. It gives a very good learning laboratory for
children to understand nature,” Jennings said. More native plants will
be installed in the fall.