City to appeal parts of Hinkson Creek cleanup plan

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | 10:24 p.m. CST; updated 2:36 p.m. CST, Monday, February 28, 2011

*CORRECTION: The 19 hot spots in the city's plan were on private property and Missouri Department of Transportation right-of-way. A previous version misstated the locations.

COLUMBIA — The City of Columbia plans to file an administrative appeal to contest portions of the Hinkson Creek cleanup recommendations.

The recommendations, called a total maximum daily load, specify that the city, county and MU must reduce the amount of stormwater entering Hinkson creek by 39.6 percent.

In a release Wednesday, Gov. Jay Nixon stated he will be coming to Columbia on Thursday to present Boone County Public Works with a $713,000 grant "to improve the water quality in Hinkson Creek."

During a Columbia City Council work session Wednesday, Public Works Director John Glascock said the city's interpretation of the limits specifies a three- to five-year implementation schedule in addition to stipulating that 100 percent of sampling sites in Hinkson Creek show full support of invertebrate communities.

Glascock called those targets "unattainable" and said the city plans to negotiate the implementation schedule with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

"One of the things we're always cognizant of is: If we don't meet these two things, we could be sued by anybody," Glascock said. "We've got to be ready for that."

City Manager Bill Watkins agreed, citing a need for greater clarification of the total maximum daily load.

Glascock said the city would continue to examine methods to reduce stormwater flow into the creek.

The council examined the results of a feasibility study conducted via a grant provided by Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.

The study identified 19 "hot spots" where the city could make improvements in stormwater collection and detention. The hot spots comprise 255 acres, or 1.7 percent of the total area identified in the total maximum daily load as causing stormwater runoff.

A presentation by Environmental Services Manager Steve Hunt showed the addition of stormwater detention basins in the 19 hot spots.*

The total costs for reducing runoff in all 19 sites was estimated at $1.1 million. .

"We don't want the impression that you can take this project and extrapolate the costs for the whole watershed," Hunt said of the feasibility study.

Hunt also said his presentation is not a binding plan. Instead it presents one of several options for fulfilling the total maximum daily load.

Glascock said the city is trying not to buy houses to implement its stormwater reduction plans.

In his presentation, Glascock indicated a priority to restore floodplains in the city. He said he wanted to do it "as naturally as possible."

"We need to restore areas that protect the creek," Glascock said. "If you do engineering solutions, you'll have a lot of maintenance costs in 15 years. It may be cheap upfront, but it'll cost you down the line."

The results of the study did not change the city's cost estimate for implementing the total maximum daily load.

"Our range for $30 million to $300 million is still there," Glascock said of the estimates. "It's basically $1.1 million to do these 19 sites. And if you extrapolate that for all the acres necessary, it comes to $140 million, plus land costs."

In addition to appealing the total maximum daily load, Public Works recommended the city start a macro-invertebrate monitoring program this year. Glascock said a lack of funding in the stormwater utility could impede that.

"The stormwater utility is broke," Glascock said.

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Barbara Hoppe February 17, 2011 | 7:54 a.m.
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Ellis Smith February 17, 2011 | 11:34 a.m.

If something - particularly something expensive - is going to be done it certainly makes sense to first have a clear and agreed to definition of the goal.

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