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El Chaparral restoration project aimed at reducing pollution in stormwater

The Environmental Protection Agency has called for reducing stormwater runoff into Hinkson Creek by nearly 40 percent.
The Environmental Protection Agency has called for reducing stormwater runoff into Hinkson Creek by nearly 40 percent.

A city project intended to improve the riparian area along Grindstone Creek near El Chaparral subdivision is moving forward. It's part of a larger effort to reduce pollution in Hinkson Creek.

The project, which will take place in the former sewer treatment lagoon site behind the El Chaparral neighborhood off East Broadway and El Chaparral Avenue South, will see the addition of a new bioswale, a landscape element used to limit pollution in stormwater.

The bioswale comprises the largest construction portion of the project. The city also will insert new piping to redirect stormwater flow from El Chaparral. Currently, stormwater flows directly into the creek with no treatment. The pipes will intercept that flow and bring it to the bioswale treatment area before it goes into the creek. 

"It's also a stream riparian restoration project," said John Mehuys, an environmental technician for the city. "So there will be about 100 feet extra of riparian zone enhancements."
City stormwater engineer Tom Wellman said the work is part of the collaborative adaptive management program that the city, Boone County and MU are pursuing to clean up Hinkson Creek, which for years has been on the EPA's list of impaired streams.

"We're under an agreement whereby we are trying to improve creek water quality," Wellman said. Hinkson Creek is "not supporting the amount of aquatic insects it should be. It's close, but not quite there."

On each side of Grindstone Creek, a tributary of the Hinkson, native vegetation, primarily bottomland hardwoods, will be restored in the riparian zone while invasive bush honeysuckle is removed. The remaining areas will be seeded to become grass and wildflower prairies.
"We're also going to take some water from the stormwater system and try to get that to spread out over the area," Wellman said. 

The project is expected to be carried out over the next two years and will cost about $20,000. The money will come from the city's stormwater fund.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.