The Alabama Clean Water Partnership has agreed to facilitate a Watershed Management Plan for the Hurricane Creek watershed over the course of this coming year. The watershed management planning process used by ACW brings all the stakeholders, including landowners, businesses, industries, scientists, and environmental groups, to the table to discuss and plan how best to manage community-owned water resources. The Friends of Hurricane Creek will have one seat this table which will hopefully include over 100 seats.
In conjunction with this process, we hope to get a better sense of the water quality and stream flow of Hurricane Creek and its five major tributaries over time. The local USGS is currently evaluating the possibility of a proposed gaging station in the commonly-used swimming hole near Highway 216 at Hurricane Creek Park. This gaging station would allow geologists and hydrologists to provide the public with estimations of water quality so they can make informed decisions about swimming and other forms of recreation at given times.
Alina, and Matthew Buchanan, the new Project Manager for Friends of Hurricane Creek, met with geologists and hydrologists on campus yesterday to get a sense of what data is needed to go forward. The model and inspiration for future planning is a "Proposal for Watershed Assessment of the Water-Quality and Aquatic Health Conditions in Hurricane Creek, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama" submitted by the USGS Water Science Center in March 2008. In this proposal, the USGS recommended a three-year study, beginning in FY 2008 and ending in FY 2010, to assess and monitor the HC watershed water quality and flow-- “20 main stem and tributary sites in Hurricane Creek watershed will be selected to serve as water-monitoring sites.”
This proposal was revisited in light of current needs and budget deficits. Several points emerged from yesterday's meeting, including:
Following the campus meeting, USGS staff conducted a recon in the field to evaluate possible locations as well as the current conditions. Matthew took notes and recorded their observations. In the field, Vic and Amy spoke to a local family there about past and present conditions at the creek (water levels, increased sedimentation, presence or absence of mussels), then walked over to another location to more closely examine the Hwy. 216 bridge, itself.
Vic, Rick, and Amy decided that a radar gauge might be best for that particular area of the creek, and it could be attached to the Jersey rail of the bridge (I'm not exactly certain which rail that means). A particular section of the creek water--located at a roughly 45 degree angle from the gauge's location on the bridge--would be used as a control section, when monitoring the water levels of the creek.