More Bugs, Better Water Needed For Hinkson Creek

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COLUMBIA - A city engineer says a planned construction project is designed to make Hinkson Creek a better place to live the "bug life."

"The bugs are an indicator of water quality," Tom Wellman said. "If the water quality is not very good the bugs can't thrive."

He said if the water quality is not good enough for bugs, "maybe the water isn't so good for us either."

People who visit the Forum Nature Area should not be concerned by the coming construction, Wellman said.

The public works department will be changing the landscape to change how water flows over it.

When water concentrates at a certain point very quickly, with a heavy flow, the damage is a lot greater than if the water is allowed to spread out across a larger area.

The planned "level spreader" will route storm water more effectively.

Wellman said he thinks the spreader in other ways. It will reduce the amount of runoff into the creek and filter the water, he said.

"That water returns to the creek as cool clean water that can prolong the conditions that allow bugs and critters to thrive in."

Homeowner Barbie Reid said she is glad this problem is being addressed.

"You want the creek to be healthy for everybody and the runoff coming from the roads and all of the oil and everything, we need it clean for everybody," Reid said.

But in order for this spreader to work, Wellman said, everyone needs to do their part to reduce their waste.

"If people are over fertilizing their lawn, that gets caught up in the runoff and comes down to the creek and causes problems. Just the normal dirt and oil and things like that, that are on the pavements, those make their way in runoff water down to the creek," Wellman said.

Hinkson Creek is the largest of the city's 15 watersheds. The Hinkson is 26 miles long, with many other tributaries, like Flat Branch Creek and Grindstone Creek, flowing into it.

There is no start date for the construction yet, but planners hope to have the construction finished this winter.

Once the construction is finished, Wellman said, the area will be reforested as a way to aid in the natural process of water runoff.