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Harris Creek restoration project underway

By Staff
Melissa Cason
WACO – The Franklin County Soil and Conservation District is working to restore a local waterway and remove it from the impaired waterway list with Environmental Protection Agency.
Robert Clement, watershed coordinator for the FCSCD, said Harris Creek was identified as an impaired waterway in 1998 and the district secured a grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in 2007 to improve the area and get it off the list.
"There was found to be too many nutrients in Harris Creek, which is a direct result of pastures being near the creek," Clement said. "Nutrients from the manure and run-off from the pastures into the creek have taken a toll on the water."
In addition to the excessive nutrients in the water, the creek also suffers from soil erosion where cows have visited the creek for water or crossed the waterway.
"Cows make a mess when they cross the water or go there for drink," Clement said.
To combat the damage, the first phase of the plan to improve the creek included the installation of watering troughs for the cows to keep them from drinking as much from the creek.
The grant will also allow the pastures to be refurbished by adding a buffer zone between the creek and the pasture to prevent runoff in the creek.
"Another area we need to address is where the cows do cross the creek to cool off," Clement said. "We will work with these areas to make them more stable and less prone to erosion."
Clement said the project, which should wrap up in 2010, is important to the county's environment and to industry that might come in.
"Harris Creek is located in the industrial park, and when a watershed is on the impaired list, there are more restrictions on what can and can't be done near that waterway," Clement said. "The goal is to get the creek off the list by improving these things so that there won't be so many restrictions on the water."
The health of Russellville's residents is another reason for the need to put Harris Creek back in tip-top shape.
"Harris Creek runs into Cedar Creek, which is the supply for Russellville's drinking water," Clement said.

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