Boone County to focus on commercial interests with Hinkson grant

Monday, July 28, 2008 | 6:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA- Commercial property owners in the Columbia area will be the focus of a $300,884 grant to help keep sediment and other pollutants out of Hinkson Creek.

The grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to the Boone County Commission will be used to continue the Hinkson Creek Watershed Restoration Project, which was started in 2004 by local nonprofit organization Show-Me Clean Streams.

The first phase of the project focused on educating residents about water quality issues along the Hinkson and promoting environmentally friendly solutions such as rain gardens.

Bill Florea, senior planner for Boone County government, said the next phase will focus on existing commercial and industrial property owners, particularly those in the area around U.S. 63 and Interstate 70 as well as Clark Lane.

"We want to work with owners of commercial and industrial property," Florea said. "We feel like we've addressed the residential market with the last phase, working with homeowners. The surfaces in businesses that are dedicated to cars contribute a lot of pollutants to stormwater. Essentially we're looking at water coming off of parking lots: oils, greases, antifreeze and metals."

Florea said the three-year project would begin with a study to determine what low-impact development techniques would be most feasible for properties in the target area to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution in the Hinkson. These techniques usually involve filters or retention structures that clean or slow contaminated runoff flowing into a waterway.

"If you have an 80-acre parking area or so, basically you make a hole in the existing parking lot and put in a filter," said Scott Hamilton of Show-Me Clean Streams. "You're taking the existing situation and changing it so the runoff does not hurt the stream."

Florea said the techniques that could be used by property owners to improve the Hinkson may vary.

"There may be larger retention structures that let pollutants settle out or run the water through a constructive wetland," Florea said. "There's even products out on the market that are mechanical filters. A lot of it will depend on the individual property, what's best for that and what they're trying to treat."

This phase will deal primarily with existing commercial and industrial developments. New developments in Columbia are subject to a city stormwater ordinance that requires state approval of land preservation and stormwater control plans, said city engineering technician Darrell McSwain. These rules, however, do not address developments already in place.

"The reason for focus on retrofitting is because we now have a stormwater ordinance that will take care of the new developments," Hamilton said. "That doesn't help with existing problems. In order to help the situation, you need to go in and improve what was occurring before."

Property owners interested in the restoration project will be partially reimbursed for their efforts. Florea said the county would pay for 60 percent of the total costs for installing low-impact development techniques. Grant money will also be spent on the hiring of a full-time project manager to oversee the second restoration phase.

A steering committee of conservation and city professionals and a stakeholder committee of the public will help oversee the project. Florea said he hoped the stakeholder committee would be appointed in September or October.

Florea said the ultimate goal of the restoration project is to identify contaminants in Hinkson Creek and improve its water quality.

"The Hinkson is on the 303(d) list of impaired waters," Florea said.

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resource's Web site, Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act requires that each state identify waters that are not meeting water quality standards and for which adequate water pollution controls have not been required. The list helps state and federal agencies keep track of waters that are impaired but not addressed by normal water pollution control programs, the site states.

"It would be nice, it would be in the community's best interest to get the stream off that list," Florea said. "We still don't know what the impairment or contaminant in the creek is. If we can start to work on that, that's moving in a positive direction."


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