Walnut Creek project may

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2000

benefit from new program


Staff Writer

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May 17, 2000 10 PM

A water quality monitoring project could have a future impact on the Walnut Creek reservoir project.

The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority is co-sponsoring a project with the Center for Environmental Research and Service and Troy State University to test water quality.

According to Barbara Gibson of the Authority, the project will involve monitoring water quality trends at a minimum of 20 sites in the watershed.

Funds in the amount of $13,500 that were presented by State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, on Tuesday will provide a TSU graduate assistant, who will do the water tests a minimum of six times a year.

Intense monitoring will take place at two or more subwatersheds, where water quality impairment has been detected, Gibson said.

Plans are to periodically report the findings and publish a brochure summarizing the water quality in the watershed.

Gibson said the long-term monitoring will give authorities information about the water quality and aquatic biology in the watershed.

Mike Mullen, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Service, said he believes this process is "a good continuation" of what is already being done.

"We’re happy to be able to continue this," Mullen said, adding information collected will be reported to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Gibson said the data collected during this project could provide information that will affect the construction of a reservoir on Walnut Creek.

She said if Walnut Creek proponents had proceeded in the 1970s, it would be "a wonderful asset" to Pike County.

Now, the battle will be more difficult and she predicts it will take eight to 10 years to get to the point of creating an additional source of water.

"The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost," Mullen said. "There will be a lot less problems if we go ahead and bite the bullet and do it."

Gibson said a need for more drinking water can already be predicted because of growth in this area.

"There is definitely going to be a water supply need in this area," Gibson said. "Walnut Creek is ideal."

Mullen said there will be a severe problems years down the road "if we don’t do something" now.

Boothe, who ran for election on this issue, hasn’t given up on a reservoir at Walnut Creek becoming a reality.

"If we don’t look at impounding some water…we’re going to have some real problems in this part of the country," Boothe said.

"We’ve got to take some steps that may not be popular to start with."

On behalf of TSU, Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins said he hopes "this graduate assistanceship will lead to great things" for the area.

But, getting a graduate assistant to collect the information wasn’t the only announcement made this week.

The Watershed Management Authority is also helping the Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District with erosion and flooding problems on County Road 81.

With the $3,000 presented by Boothe, a project to open an outlet on County Road 81 was plugged due to critical erosion.

An underground pipe outlet, sediment basin, smooth collection area and safe outlet will be installed to prevent flooding and eliminate an existing critical area. Soil saved will be measured in tons per acre.

Previously closing the outlet did reduce erosion, but caused water to pond, destroying 1.5 acres of crops each year.

The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority is a state agency created in 1991 with a purpose of protecting and managing watersheds in southeast Alabama. Primary responsibilities of the agency are addressing issues concerning water quality, water quantity, flood control and prevention, water conservation and usage and promotion of conservation education.