Hinkson Creek Water Quality Future is Unknown
COLUMBIA - Gary Kespohl, the Third Ward city councilman in Columbia, said Wednesday the Hinkson Creek issue could go to court. The City voted Monday to oppose a plan from the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency mandated Columbia reduce the flow of the creek by 39.6 percent to improve its water quality. Kespohl said since the Sierra Club sued the EPA about pollution in the creek, the EPA is caught in the middle. He thinks the creek has improved since the last EPA test in 2006.
"It takes time to clean the creek. I think that it's a much cleaner stream than it was five years ago," said Kespohl.
But Ken Midkiff, conservation chair of the Osage group of the Sierra Club, said this is hard to believe. He said although the EPA has not tested the water since 2006, he thinks the water has gotten worse.
"Every three months there are studies done by voluntary water quality monitors. They conclude that the water is not clean. It has a lot of bacteria," said Midkiff.
He said the results of these tests cannot be used to determine whether or not water body is impaired, but it can send a red flag to tell the EPA that more studies should be done. Both Kespohl and Midkiff believe the EPA needs to conduct more studies on the creek to determine just how polluted it is or isn't. Midkiff said that he would like to see the creek go back to how it was in the good old days.
"Once upon a time, people used to go swimming and fishing in that creek. Not anymore. I would love to see it eventuality go back to that," said Midkiff.
Kespohl the city will have another meeting in February to look deeper into this issue if the EPA holds to its mandate. During that meeting, the city leaders may decide to sue the EPA to appeal the mandate.