Strayhorn Branch Stream Enhancement
A stream restoration project to restore water quality in downtown Durham
Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association is planning a stream enhancement project for a 500 foot stretch of stream at Pearl Mill Nature Preserve. Strayhorn Branch is a degraded stream flowing into South Ellerbe Creek. These streams drain 11 acres of downtown Durham and are severely eroded from high stormwater flows. Each new storm moves more sediment and pollution into the stream, harming water quality and habitat. The result is a degraded, damaged stream that is also uninviting for people. The good news is that by enhancing the stream to once again access its floodplain, we can help slow the water’s flow, reduce erosion, and make the stream cleaner and more hospitable for aquatic life.
The stream enhancement will:
- Stabilize stream banks to reduce erosion that degrades the stream and pollutes our streams
- Create in-stream riffles that will slow down water as it moves through the stream, contributing a small part to reducing downstream flooding
- Provide a public access area for residents to view the stream and learn about the stream enhancement work
- Provide plantings of native plant species that will benefit pollinators.
The “construction” of a stream enhancement requires some typical building processes like using heavy equipment to move soils and regrade, but this project will not create any new structures or new impervious surfaces (surfaces like roofs and roads that produce stormwater runoff). The photos show the current state of the heavily degraded stream, and the after photos show phases of a similar project. Sediment control practices specific to stream enhancement projects will minimize the amount of erosion during regrading. The planted foliage will take time to become fully established, but native pollinator plants will replace the existing foliage, which includes significant invasive plant species.
DESIGN AND PERMITTING
SPRING - SUMMER 2022
ECWA will work with an engineering consultant to finalize the design and create detailed plans that will be required to permit and construct the project. This project will require local and State permits. This phase is expected to take up to 6 months through the summer of 2023.
FALL - WINTER 2022
The contract to construct this stream enhancement will be awarded through a bidding process. ECWA will advertise the bid widely and will collect at least three bids from qualified contractors before selecting a contractor to bring the design into reality.
WINTER - SUMMER 2023
Project construction is planned to begin in early- to mid-2023 and is expected to take approximately 3 months, weather pending. Construction vehicles will enter and leave the site from the location identified on the map. Construction activities will include some clearing of vegetation, regrading of stream banks, and plantings to stabilize disturbed soils.