Troubled Ashland creek gets help from R-MC students

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - A stream in the town of Ashland is getting some much needed help from students at Randolph-Macon College.  Mechumps Creek has been degraded thanks to nearby urban development.

The town of Ashland is constantly seeing new development. Now that's a good thing for the economy, but it was a bad thing for a nearby creek. Now Randolph-Macon is leading the charge to change that.

It's a complete makeover for Mechumps creek.  This stream was degraded and eroded, forcing wildlife out.  Pollution and chemicals were also a problem, eventually flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

Charles Gowan with Randolph-Macon says, "there's a lot of development in Ashland, obviously a lot of pavement and parking lots and roofs, and all of that creates storm water runoff that the creek does not experience naturally, and that causes a lot of erosion."

About eight years ago, R-MC teamed up with Williamsburg Engineering Group. Thanks to funding from the town of Ashland and several grants, engineers came in and figured out how much water was coming through here and how fast.

They built a new stream, literally from the ground up.  With a new design, and some extra bends, it can now withstand the extra runoff from nearby development, and starting this weekend, volunteers will help rebuild the habitat.

Gowan says, "they'll be something in the way of 2,500 plants put in here for this 1,200 feet of stream we have on Saturday from a bunch of student volunteers and volunteers we have from WEG."

Project leaders will monitor this stream for at least the next 10 years.

Josh Running, an environmental engineer says, "visual I think will be the most appealing, you come in and say has this succeeded? Well, we will find out in 10 years when it's stable and there are fish swimming back in here and trees are coming up and it looks good, much different from a year ago. "

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