Lost Creek - Part 3

“Serious problems cannot be dealt with at the level of thinking that created them.”  Albert Einstein


1504 Ann Arbor Drive

Norman, Oklahoma 73069-5363

Contact Us:

Phone: 405-620-2004

E-mail: russ@riverman-engineering.com

Nevertheless, the project has been extremely rewarding to me and has even resulted in some unexpected happenings.

The first of these occurred when Marcie asked me to come up to the school because they had something they wanted to give me.  Indeed they did.  It was a party.  And on bulletin boards were 48 colored feet (A few examples are shown here).  Marcie had had each of her students trace their foot and write something on it to me.  I have never felt more honored.

The second unexpected event occurred when I was nominated for and received the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Regional Administrator’s Environmental Excellence Award for “Excellence in wetland’s protection demonstrated by your pioneering work in the field of fluvial geomorphology and by putting theory into action using innovative approaches to streambank stabilization and restoration.”  This was perhaps an equal honor.

Another thing I wasn’t expecting were the repeat phone calls I received early after project completion regarding sewage in the creek.  The presence of a creek was drawing people to it and making them aware of a problem that had most certainly existed prior to that time but went undetected, the existence of sewer line leaks.  As a result, several leaks were found and repaired.  In their September, 2001 survey OCCWQ staff noted that signs of organic and nutrient enrichment (e.g., blackened water, H2S production, foam) were  apparent through the first 300 feet, but that downstream water quality appeared to improve markedly (i.e., clear water, no smell, no foam),  and stated that this could “possibly (be) attributable to the dense instream and marginal macrophyte growth present throughout the project reach.”

Looking upstream, September, 2001.

Looking downstream, September, 2001.

Step-pool, September, 2001.

Wetland pond (inner) and ducks (March, 2001).

“Who hears the rippling of rivers will not utterly despair of anything.”

                                                                                        Henry David Thoreau

Upstream reach (March, 2001).

Middle reach (March, 2001).

Step-pool (March, 2001).

The total cost of the project, including repairs was approximately $76,000.  Over the years, the project has proven to have been fairly successful.  The channel has proven to be extremely stable and the vegetation has become well establishment and succession throughout the area is particularly noteworthy.   In general, the site has transformed from no more than a bare, clay ditch to a natural, riparian reach with a micro-wetland community.  A qualitative vegetation assessment performed by staff from OCCWQ on September 17, 2001 yielded a total observation of 25 plant species.  Instream cover was dominated by emergent aquatic vegetation and canopy coverage was good.  Instream and associated wetland fauna observed during the survey included mosquito fish, sunfish, crayfish, various dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, whirligig beetles, various snails, frogs, redwing blackbirds, and a cottontail rabbit.  Ducks and geese routinely use the constructed wetland ponds and monarch butterflies use the site extensively during their annual migration.  On one occasion, when I was observing the site with Scott Studley, we witnessed a Cooper’s hawk strike some unknown water bird on the bank less than 50  feet from us.  There was a flurry of feathers and both birds flew off in different directions.

Unfortunately, the step-pool continues to experience some erosion.  This has been extremely frustrating to me, because although it is healing somewhat and functioning properly, it looks ugly and I know that I just didn’t quite get it right.  I know now that I simply needed more boulders to carry them up to a slightly higher level.  The Rehabilitation Manual for Australian Streams says that “we learn more from our failures than from our successes.”  That was definitely the case in this project.

Oklahoma City has since identified and repaired more leaks and when I walked the site on July 12, 2004, I did not observe nor smell any sign of sewage contamination in the creek.  I also saw numerous fish, including one sunfish.    Go to Lost Creek - 4 for the latest (July 14, 2004).

Phone: 405-620-2004

E-mail: russ@riverman-engineering.com

“The song of the river ends not at her banks but in the hearts of those who have loved her.”

                                 Buffalo Joe

Lost Creek - 1

Lost Creek - 2

Lost Creek - 3

Lost Creek - 4