During the 1980s, South Creek in Springfield, Missouri, was converted to a concrete channel, which was common practice at the time. This mile-long urban channel runs through a highly developed area in the heart of the city.
Seeking to restore the channel to its natural makeup, the city of Springfield chose Olsson to design the channel that would improve the water quality and aquatic habitat.
The design challenges, given the objectives, were considerable. South Creek had been channelized and straightened, it provided a low level of ecological habitat and water quality benefit. The reach had large, multiple cell box culverts located at crossings with city streets and a recreational walking and biking trail running adjacent to the channel. In addition, the project was partially funded through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 319 Grant that required the city to meet the project goals established through the grant application process. The project involved several stakeholders, including the James River Basin Partnership, Ozark Greenways, and the City of Springfield.
Through resource inventories, engineering analysis, and city and stakeholder feedback, we identified the most appropriate design that would best meet the project goals within the physical constraints of the project. Unique design features were incorporated into the project, including Newbury weirs, hard wood log weirs, habitat boulders, and low-flow channels that cut through the floor of the existing reinforced concrete boxes. Native vegetation and wetland plantings were used to restore the project to a more natural state.
According to the City of Springfield, assessments before and after the project showed that water quality improved from poor and fair to good and excellent. The combination of native plants, riffles, and pools, and the removal of hard concrete has served to improve water quality and provide habitat for aquatic life.
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