August 27, 2008
Hinkson Creek Watershed Gets Funds for Study
By SARA SEMELKA
The Boone County Commission this month established a budget for a three-year project funded by a Department of Natural Resources grant to study the Hinkson Creek watershed and determine best-management practices for landowners in the environmentally sensitive area.
The $501,483 grant includes a $200,599 in-kind match from the county. The funds will be used in part to hire a full-time temporary staff member who will oversee project activities that include public education and outreach, generating public comment for the written watershed plan, investigating best-management practices for landowners in the watershed and providing cost-share opportunities as incentives for implementing those practices.
The goal is to study, manage and make the public aware of excessive runoff, which DNR officials anticipate will be identified as a main polluter of Hinkson Creek.
"What we're really doing is taking a pre-emptive strike at what the" total maximum daily load of pollutants "will be," said Boone County Senior Planner Bill Florea. "Hinkson is on the list of impaired waters for which DNR is required to establish pollutant and pollutant loading."
The staff member will organize a stakeholder committee to review the watershed plan, a document that was recently completed and lacks a section for community input.
"We want to make sure it's in line with community's needs and wants," Florea said of the management plan. "It's written as a technical document ... that says, `In a perfect world, here's what we do.' But it didn't take into account how it affects the constituency."
Florea said the county intends to make the Hinkson project successful where a similar project in the Bonne Femme watershed came up short. A grant for that project allowed landowners cost-sharing opportunities to install best-management practices, but few people took advantage.
In addition to seeking funds from outside sources to decrease what landowners would have to pay, Florea said, the grant will fund a scientific study of best-management practices.
"As opposed to Bonne Femme, where we said, `Would you like to do something?' we want to be able to approach people and say, `We've done a study, this will work on your property,' " he said.
Validating best-management practices is the goal of University of Missouri hydrologist Jason Hubbart, who will serve on the project's advisory panel. "That's what's missing validating current BMPs," he said. "Do they really work? If not, how do we make them work?"
Hubbart said there are many ways to control runoff, including rain gardens that allow water to percolate through the soil instead of pouring into a creek - an idea Hubbart likes. However, he added, "With rain gardens, there is no clarity on whether the method touted is best to be used."
Hubbart has received an additional DNR grant to study the Hinkson watershed and said his research will dovetail with local efforts to control runoff. He plans to install four permanent gauging sites on the main branch of the Hinkson Creek to monitor runoff. The gauges will measure runoff volume from different types of land: forested areas, agricultural land and suburban and urban areas. The data will tell what land use contributes the most sediment, he said.
"That is a critical piece of information that's never been there," he said. "It's an opportunity to really nail down what land uses are providing what pollutants at what concentrations."
Reach Sara Semelka at (573) 815-1717 or [email protected]
Originally published by SARA SEMELKA of the Tribune's staff.
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