Tarboro Daily Southerner Mar. 9, 2007

Restoration of canal going well


Only good things are being said about the East Tarboro Canal Stream Restoration Project.

The project is a 4,875-foot stream restoration effort to improve water quality and is overheaded by the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program at a cost of $850,000. Jessica Kemp, project manager for the Eco-System Enhancement Program spoke Thursday to the Rotary Club of Tarboro. More than 50 people were in attendance.

"The purpose of the Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) is to restore, enhance, preserve and protect our streams in North Carolina," said Kemp. The program was formed in July 2003 by a joint effort between the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Wilmington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"EEP provides high quality, cost-effective projects that will get the best restoration for the system," said Kemp.

The East Tarboro Canal Stream Restoration Project was started in 2003. There are two reaches or project areas in this restoration. The first behind the M.A. Ray Center on Martin Luther King Drive and the other at Forest Acres Drive.
"At Forest Acres, the stream had incizing and the stream was trying to cut banks," said Kemp.

For this project, the restoration included raising the bed of channel, stabilizing banks, installing grade control structures, installing a builder wall, planting trees and installing cross vanes downstream to tie the stream into the existing channel grade, said Kemp.

Construction on the Forest Acres area stream began in December.

"The majority of the construction work was done on the left back of stream and most of the trees (whose root systems hold banks) were able to be restored," said Kemp.

The stream was meandering until the restoration project which straightened the stream.

"The difference in the Forest Acres project and the Ray Center project was that we were dealing with day soil in Forest Acres compared to a sand bed system behind the Ray Center," said Kemp. "These projects were extremely different.
"At the Ray Community Center the stream was naturally trying to meander and make its own banks."
There had to be a full restoration project done at the Ray Center which consisted of "a much wider conservation easement of both sides of the bank."

This stream project, which began in June, included raising the bed of channel, protecting mature trees, planting bare roots into the existing channel.

"Here we graded back the flood plain," said Kemp. "The vegetation there will grow up and shade the stream as well as provide a fish habitat."

She added, "I think you have a great project. We always want to protect the streams because they are a wonderful asset to the community."

Kemp assured Rotarians that excessive amount of mosquitoes around the flowing stream water would not be an issue, simply because the water is flowing and mosquitoes tend to group around stagnant water sources.

"If you can protect, restore and let a stream grow up, it can be a huge resource," added Kemp.

"This has really been a great project. We have gotten 100 percent funding from this group (EEP) to restore the canal," said Town Manager Sam Noble.