Groups Work to Restore Meadow Creek

At the request of the City of Charlottesville, Va., The Nature Conservancy in Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Norfolk District have agreed to invest $3.2 million in a project that will restore approximately 7,000 linear feet of severely degraded stream channels along Meadow Creek. 

“A City priority is to better manage our stormwater and improve the health of our streams,” said Charlottesville Mayor David Brown. “I am excited that the Nature Conservancy is helping us take such a major step by restoring over a mile of Meadow Creek, in an area that the community can enjoy and school kids can learn from.”

A 2005 water quality study by the city, paid for with funds provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, identified stream bank erosion as the most significant source of sediment in Meadow Creek and its tributaries. The study recommended establishing and preserving buffers on the reach of Meadow Creek this project will address.

The restoration involves four separate properties, including the 28-acre Greenbrier Park, 12.5 acres owned by the city in the upland area along Meadow Creek, and two parcels that are privately owned.  Restoration work will begin this year and will involve reducing the steep height of the streambanks, adding meanders and habitat structures to the stream channel, and planting trees to enhance the forested buffer along the stream. 

Meadow Creek flows into the Rivanna River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has listed Meadow Creek and a segment of the Rivanna River downstream as “impaired waters.”  Impairment in Meadow Creek is believed to be due to high bacteria concentrations from nonpoint source runoff, and impairment in the Rivanna River is believed to be due to excessive sedimentation from stream bank erosion.

“Sediment is choking the life out of our area’s streams, but here in Charlottesville and the Rivanna River watershed we have an opportunity to change that by rebuilding eroded stream channels and replanting the buffers along the stream,” said Ridge Schuyler, The Nature Conservancy’s Piedmont Program director. “Yet the Rivanna remains one of the best examples of a Piedmont river system, so this is an opportunity to help the fish, mussels and other aquatic species that rely on the health of the river.”

The Meadow Creek project complements the work done upstream by The University of Virginia, which has recently completed a number of stream restoration projects, including one at the Dell and one at the John Paul Jones Arena.

The restoration project on Meadow Creek will be accomplished in partnership with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, which is undertaking a sewer line upgrade at the same location. The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and The Nature Conservancy plan to coordinate the two projects to ensure protection for both the stream and the sewer line. 

“This project represents a great opportunity for the City of Charlottesville and the leadership of the City Council and staff,” said Tom Frederick, executive director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.  “We are pleased to be a partner in what should be a project of significant environmental benefit as well as a model process for how multiple agencies can work together for the betterment of the community.”  

The Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, a cooperative agreement between the Army Corps of Engineers and The Nature Conservancy, is funding the project. The Trust Fund helped facilitate restoration of a half mile of an unnamed tributary that connects to the Rivanna River in Albemarle County.

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