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Restoration of stream continues

By Justin Reedy

Another portion of East Jesters Creek, a badly eroded stream running through Reynolds Nature Preserve in Morrow, will soon be repaired.

The creek is suffering from a silt-clogged channel, a lack of vegetation on its banks and a shortage of wildlife.

The two-part restoration effort by the Clayton County Water Authority, which is focusing on a 4,600-foot-long stretch of the stream, will improve local water quality and save taxpayer money, officials say.

Design work is nearly complete for a restored stream channel for the northern portion of East Jesters Creek, which runs between Huie Road and just north of Reynolds Road. Construction of that project should start in the next couple of months, according to Mike Thomas, project manager for the Water Authority.

The second part of that stream restoration project will center on the creek's southern portion, which starts just north of Reynolds Road and extends about 2,200 feet south. At a recent meeting, the Water Authority Board of Directors voted to accept a state Environmental Protection Division grant for that portion of the project, which will cost about $500,000. Under the grant agreement, the state will pay 60 percent n or about $300,000 n while the county will pay the remaining 40 percent.

The CCWA board also voted to start working on the design of the restoration, with plans for the new creek expected in about six months and construction slated to begin next spring.

East Jesters Creek has been suffering from the harmful effects of development in Clayton County, but the Water Authority hopes to change that through the restoration project.

For many years, the rapid development in the area around East Jesters Creek has caused the stream banks to erode and the creek's conditions to degrade. That erosion, which leads to brown, sediment-filled water, is combining with polluted water runoff from roads and parking lots to cause poor water quality for one of the county's drinking water sources. It is also reducing wildlife in an area that should be full of fish and insect activity.

"What we've seen is if we keep developing, and we don't address these problems, our streams won't be a good habitat," said Thomas. "And it costs money to remove sediment at our drinking water plant, so it does provide a direct cost benefit."

The restoration of the northern end of the creek will include digging a new stream channel adjacent to the existing one and rerouting the water flow into that new channel. The new stream would be constructed to handle low and high water flow levels without eroding, Thomas said, through additional curves and meanders that will slow down the stream flow.

The restoration of the southern end of the creek won't be as intensive as the northern project, Thomas said, since a shortage of space around the creek precludes the construction of another stream channel.

The project will include planting native vegetation along the stream bank to help prevent erosion, according to Kim Zimmerman, watershed programs coordinator for the CCWA. Some stream restoration projects utilize gravel on the banks, Zimmerman said previously, but grass and other vegetation is more aesthetically pleasing and safer for hikers walking along the creek.