Work is expected to begin in the next two weeks on the town’s second bio-retention project, or rain garden, at Cub Creek Park.
The garden will be located adjacent to Bridge Street, inside the small walking track near the town recycling bins. Construction is expected to take two months.
The total cost of the project is $100,000. Wilkesboro received a $58,250 grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and National Resources, Division of Water Resources in November 2012. The town will provide its share of the cost with in-kind labor (town employees) and equipment.
The town’s first rain garden was constructed on the north side of Cub Creek near the Oakwoods Road bridge and will be completed this spring.
Purpose of garden explained
The garden was designed by Blue Ridge Environmental Consultants, which also designed the three phases of the Cub Creek Restoration project.
Derek Goddard, the president of the company, said that the purpose of the one-third acre garden—a shallow, man-made depression—is to collect storm water runoff from the asphalt parking lot and other nearby impervious surfaces and allow it to cool as well as treat and clear of some of the sediment before flowing into the creek.
“There will be plants and other vegetation in the new pond, and in the one at Oakwoods Road,” said Goddard. “We want to remove nitrogen and phosphorus, two major contaminants, before the water gets into the creek, and the roots of those plants need nitrogen and phosphorous in order to survive. It’s a nice tradeoff.
“Also, a lot of the sediment from the runoff will settle out in the pond,” Goddard added. “The water will be cleaner when it goes into the creek.”
Cooler water for trout
Cooling the water will improve the chances of making Cub Creek a year-round habitat for trout.
“The runoff from an asphalt parking lot in the summer can be hot,” Goddard noted. “That’s not good for the trout. Ideally for the fish, the temperature will stay around 70 in the creek. When the trees along the bank of the creek mature and provide a canopy in the summer, we hope that the water will be cool enough that the state wildlife resources commission will stock trout in the creek year-round.”
No mosquitoes expected
There have been concerns that the ponds will provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Goddard said that won’t be the case.
“The presence of mosquitoes is predicated by the vegetation that’s around,” he said. “Researchers at N.C. State have done studies that show that if you don’t have cattails, then you don’t have mosquitoes...and we won’t have cattails. Cattails apparently provide a perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
“Also,” Goddard added, “since this will be a shallow pond, there won’t also be standing water.”
Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Noland added, “Our plan is to have attractive plantings in both of the ponds.
“So far, we’ve only completed the excavation for the settling pond adjacent to Oakwoods Road. We’ll be putting in the plantings at both locations at the same time. But, as Derek said, we won’t have any cattails.”
In awarding the grant for the new retention pond, then-Gov. Bev Perdue recognized the town for its effort to rehabilitate Cub Creek.
“The grant will provide financial assistance for installing storm water runoff management structures at Cub Creek Park,” wrote the governor. “Your efforts to improve water management infrastructure in the community are to be commended.”
The town has rehabilitated 8,300 feet of Cub Creek within the town park, in a project that began in 2007 and was completed in 2012. The town received grants to cover about $750,000 of the $1 million cost. The town paid its share through in-kind manpower and equipment.
The next phase is to rehabilitate 2,000 feet of the creek bank from Old U.S. 421 to the Yadkin River (adjacent to the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Wilkesboro officials have applied for grant funding to help with the cost of that section but won’t know if they receive it until the new state budget is approved.
“I think we have a great project,” Noland said. “We were told by state officials that it was great, so now we’re just waiting to see if the funds will be available.
“We have been told that the project received a very high score in the review by the state,” Noland added. “The other projects that we have done, such as the Cub Creek rehabilitation, have helped tremendously. They show that we make good use of the money. If there’s money there, we’ll get it.”
Noland noted that town crews and equipment were used to provide the majority of the in-kind costs for the Cub Creek restoration.
“That’s a million project, and the town spent less than $10,000 in cash for supplies. “The rest of the money for labor, equipment and fuel was already included within the regular town budget. We didn’t have to hire any extra labor or contractors.”