3M Wetlands Area opens to public

Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 7:42 p.m. CDT; updated 8:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 15, 2014
Contributors and residents gather for the vine cutting at the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands area. The new area includes a 1.25 mile trail around the wetlands and educational signs about the area's nature.

COLUMBIA — Years ago, the pump house at the old sewage treatment plant near Flat Branch and Hinkson Creek was covered in graffiti and falling apart.

On Thursday, city leaders and residents gathered at the pump house — now a renovated pavilion with a rooftop garden — to celebrate the dedication of the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands area.

The sewer treatment plant, which closed in the mid- to late 80s, used to scrub contaminants from sewage mains. Today, the plant's grounds shelter wildlife and filter storm water before it runs into the surrounding creeks.

The wetlands area is the result of a partnership between the Columbia 3M, the Columbia Parks and Recreation, Water & Light and Public Works departments and other agency partners. The project cost just more than $145,000, with $40,000 provided by a grant from 3M and $45,000 from park sales tax, according to Parks and Recreation's website.

"If there's ever been a project where there has been a cooperative partnership, it's been this project," said Mike Griggs, Parks and Recreation director.

The area hosts a 1.25-mile trail that branches from the MKT, a roofed shelter, four picnic tables and educational signs about the surrounding nature area.

The wetland cells treat stormwater runoff from about 140 acres of urban watershed, and they can store about 10 million gallons of runoff, according to a news release from Columbia Parks and Recreation.

The wetlands restoration area is at the two-mile marker of the MKT Trail, next to Hinkson Creek and the Forum Nature Area.

"This is a wonderful beginning to improving the Hinkson," Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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