Duck Creek repairs depend on city money

Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Juneau could receive $2.75 million in federal funds to restore water quality and fish populations in Duck Creek if the city can come up with $1.25 million in cash or work, federal officials say.

In-kind work, such as putting in culverts, costs money too, said City Manager Dave Palmer.

``We're still talking and exploring options at this point,'' said Palmer, who was scheduled to meet with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials today.

The city already has spent some money to help Duck Creek as part of drainage projects, and some of the upcoming work to rebuild Mendenhall Boulevard could apply, Palmer said.

The corps, which manages an aquatic ecosystem restoration fund, hasn't committed its share of the estimated $4 million project. But officials at the Washington, D.C., headquarters like the project, said John Burns, a corps biologist.

The valley stream once had healthy runs of coho and chum salmon, but it now supports only a ``nice'' run of cutthroat trout, said K Koski, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist.

The creek has been damaged by sediment and pollutants running off the hard surfaces of the urbanized Mendenhall Valley, where natural vegetative buffers have been removed, biologists said.

The naturally existing problem of ground iron getting into the stream has been intensified by digging up the land for development, biologists said. And the stream's flow is hindered by too-small road culverts. Parts of the spring-fed creek sometimes go dry.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is now accepting public comments on a restoration plan, which officials outlined at a public meeting Tuesday.

The plan would add to the stream's flow by piping in water from Nugget Creek. It would line the streambed in places, replace small pipe culverts with large bottomless arches or bridges, turn iron-rich dredge ponds into filtering marshes, catch pollutants in storm drains, and build vegetative buffers along the creek.

The restoration plan is an outgrowth of work by the Duck Creek Advisory Group, which has won a federal award for its management plan and demonstration projects involving volunteers, businesses and government agencies.

Copies of the restoration and management plans are available by calling the Mendenhall Watershed Partnership at 586-3141.

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