City moving forward with Mad Branch rehab project

Matthew Lane • Jul 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport has received a $67,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help implement phase two of the Mad Branch rehabilitation project.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted last week to allocate the 40 percent local match for the grant — $36,000 in cash and nearly $9,000 in in-kind contributions, such as staff salaries and volunteer labor. The total amount to be spent on phase two is approximately $112,000.

Mad Branch has been on the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s 303D list of impaired streams for years due to habitat alteration caused by urban storm water runoff.

Kingsport received a $20,000 grant from TDEC to help identify Mad Branch’s watershed and devise a plan to remove the stream from the 303D list. Phase two of the project deals with implementation and consists of a variety of action items including:

•Stabilizing 300 feet of streambank along Midland Drive, Fairfield Avenue, Greenfield Avenue and the Garden Drive and Midfields area of town.

•Increasing the average width of the buffer in midstream and upstream reaches of the creek.

•Designing and installing educational signs along the length of Mad Branch and in its watershed.

•Conducting an information campaign to make the public aware of the work needed along the creek, which includes cleanup days, public service announcements and an educational kiosk.

Dan Wankel, storm water engineer for the city, said a majority of the money ($87,000) will go toward streambank restoration, similar to work done around Belmont Circle in order to prevent the bank from falling into Mad Branch.

“It’s easily eroded pockets of sediments, but when it starts to become detrimental to the property, we can step in and give it a helping hand,” Wankel said.

The entire project has an estimated completion date of 2011.

“It’s hard to accomplish these things overnight,” Wankel said.

Another step the city and several local businesses have taken, and plan to take, to help Mad Branch is with the installation of storm water filtration systems. Wankel describes the systems as being giant concrete boxes with baffles and chambers that are installed in the ground and collect about 80 percent of the solids found in storm water runoff.

The city is installing one in connection with the Exxon renovation project on Fort Henry Drive, Food City and the Gas N’ Go plan to install filtration systems, and the owners of the Kingsport Town Center plan to install three during the upcoming $45 million renovation project at the mall.

Mad Branch Creek springs from an artesian well underneath the Kingsport Town Center, flows down Fort Henry Drive beside Big Lots and Food City, across Eastman Road behind Memorial Park, then down Center Street to Wilcox Drive and eventually deposits into the South Fork of the Holston River near the Red Cross office.

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