Hinkson Creek Impared
Sections of the creek are impared and those parts run right through the city. But the land surrounding those impared areas is some of the creek's most valuable.
Hinkson creek may seem idyllic, but if you take a closer look, you'll spot a problem. The creek is suffering from its proximity to the city. An ordinance passed in January created a buffer zone around the creek in all undeveloped areas, which prevents future damage resulting from development along the creek.
"We've gotten to the point where I think we have stopped the bleeding. That is, there won't be further damage done to Hinkson Creek," Darwin Hindman, Columbia mayor, said.
The mayor called Hinkson an asset to Columbia. Future plans aim toward making the creek available for recreational use, but even with efforts being made to clean up the creek, realizing that goal could take years.
The Hinkson is currently listed as an impaired waterway by the Department of Natural Resources, a label that has caused contention among some groups. That's because the pollutants in the creek are unknown and some groups say the pollutants have to be identified before the creek can be listed as impaired. But DNR does know the source of the pollution, something called urban runoff.
Urban runoff is pollution from the homes and businesses near the creek, from an upstream sewage plant to trash in general. The problem is that in testing, no one chemical exceeded the allowable levels set by the DNR, so there's no clear determination of what's causing the creek's damage.
"What we've found pretty consistently in Hinkson Creek is that the aquatic community is impaired at some locations. Now, the thing about it is it's right on the border line, it's certainly not as bad as some other streams around the state, its right on the border line, but it is impaired," Randy Crawford, DNR, said.
Once the buffer zone goes into effect in June, the next step to helping the Hinkson will be to find a solution to past pollution. The DNR did stress while the Hinkson is impaired, it's not the worst stream in the state and steps to clean it up can be successful.