North Raleigh News February 13, 2004

State steps in to save old creek

By DANNY HOOLEY, Staff Writer

A badly eroded creek in Wake Forest is being repaired with funds supplied by developers who disturb North Carolina wetlands.

Contaminant Control, Inc. began construction in January on the Horse Creek restoration project at the 150-acre Wake Forest Golf Club off U.S. 1.

Raleigh engineering firm Dewberry & Davis is the lead engineer for the project.

Contaminant Control was awarded the $530,000 contract by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, under its Ecological Enhancement Program.

The program was established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1996 to restore wetlands, streams and streamside areas, to enhance water quality, prevent flooding, and protect fisheries, wildlife and recreational areas.

Originally called the Wetlands Restoration Program before it was merged last year with a similar Department of Transportation program, the Ecological Enhancement Program requires developers to either enhance wetlands or streams on their own property equal to what they disturb, or to pay into a general state fund to restore wetlands and streams elsewhere.

"There are streams all over North Carolina where this is being done," said W. Emerson Teer, a regional director at Contaminant Control.

The fees for developers are $24,000 per acre for streamside wetlands, $12,000 per acre for non-streamside wetlands, and $120,000 per acre for coastal wetlands.

Stream impact fees are $200 per linear foot.

Work at Horse Creek began in mid-January. Contaminant Control is filling and realigning the stream channel, installing S-shaped rock formations, and planting vegetation along 2,875 feet of Horse Creek and 550 feet of an unnamed tributary.

The purpose is to slow the creek from a straight shot to a serpentine flow.

The project will also include adding one large culvert to an existing culvert crossing.

Teer said that the main problem with Horse Creek is erosion, which he attributed to age more than development.

"There's been some [development]" he said. "Obviously, the volumes have probably increased over the years through development. But there's not necessarily direct causation."

Rick Durham, the superintendent at Wake Forest Golf Club, said he has been told that, 20 years ago, a person could step across the creek.

"Now, it's probably a good 15 feet wide," he said.

He said that the area around the creek floods during heavy rainfall.

"The main issue was the erosion, though," he said. "Banks were just falling in."

Durham said that the project was originally set to end in March, but that weather conditions may push completion back a few weeks.