Task force reports progress on Hinkson Creek cleanup

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 10:59 p.m. CDT
Hinkson Creek has suffered as a result of stormwater runoff and has been placed on a watch list by the Environmental Protection Agency. A task force was created to figure out how to clean it up.

COLUMBIA — The public got a glimpse Wednesday night of what was being done to improve water quality in Hinkson Creek as the Collaborative Adaptive Management Stakeholder Committee held a meeting to present its progress report.

The Environmental Protection Agency officially declared the Hinkson Creek impaired in 1998 due to runoff pollution, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Since the formation of the committee, or CAM, in April 2012, various efforts have been implemented to improve the water quality of Hinkson Creek.

“Just because it’s difficult and challenging doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing,” EPA regional administrator Karl Brooks said.

The report outlines five of the projects that have become an integral part in the Hinkson Creek cleanup.

One of the main efforts includes obtaining data and educating the community on the physical habitat from the creek.

Studying the populations of invertebrate is one of the ways CAM can more accurately measure the creek's habitat. The CAM science team is testing six samplings of invertebrate to see whether the tradition population numbers are changing drastically, said Joe Engeln, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources assistant director for science and technology. This will tell them whether the environment of the creek has changed to the point where some invertebrate can no longer survive — a telltale sign of significant runoff pollution.

An important project that has been installed to combat runoff is the forum level spreader. The forum level spreader is a structure designed to take runoff water and, instead of funneling it into the creek, spread it into the surrounding grass. In spring 2014, around 1,800 trees were planted around the forum level spreader to further prevent runoff and to create a retention pond to hold the excess water.

Engineering specialist Tom Wellman said it is too early to tell whether those trees will survive to help divert runoff. While the trees and the forum level spreader are the preventive actions aimed at reducing Hinkson Creek's runoff pollution, Wellman is more interested in how the success of these actions will be measured: by studying the population of the bugs living in the creek.

The bug population living in the creek will have a substantial stake in determining the quality of the creek water, Wellman said. If the bugs are intolerant of pollution and their numbers continue to decline, then it is obvious there is still a problem.

“We’re trying to make sure the things we do build on other things,” Wellman said.

According to the report, the CAM science team plans on finishing its data collection of habitat assessment, including information on invertebrate and bug populations, by the end of summer and will report its findings by the end of the year.

Supervising editor is Mary Ryan.

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