On Sunday, October 24, the Reedy Creek Coalition offered a tour of the Reedy Creek watershed to the public.
link to flickr set (with comments) here
There were four stops along the tour, ending at a park that most neighbors don’t realize is there. The tour kicked off with a bus ride to a created wetland near the intersection of Deter Road and Laveta Drive. Tour guide Brenna explained that wetlands have been called “nature’s kidneys,” as they filter out some of the gook that gets into the water as it travels over impervious surfaces such as parking lots and roads.
The Midlothian Turnpike corridor has presented challenges due to its mostly-paved environment, whereas more established residential neighborhoods offer more trees and grassy areas where the water can get to the ground. The city’s first effort at mitigation was to construct immense concrete drainage canals; this was effective in moving the water, but not in allowing natural filtration of water moving through the ground. As a result, all the silt, trash, oil, and whatever else was in the water wound up in the lake (see here). Over time, the canals have developed a layer of silt where vegetation is able to grow, slowing the water down somewhat.
The second stop on the tour allowed the group to see a more-modern effort at flood control, at the German School/Reedy Creek site. As most people who’ve lived in Richmond for long are aware, that particular section of Midlothian Turnpike is prone to flooding (see: every Channel 12 live shot during the rain since ever). Rather than build another massive ditch, the city created a new route for Reedy Creek that has rocks and plants and is focused more on properly dealing with the water.
The buses then traveled up through Erich Road and back through the Media Road intersection to show more of the canals. The third stop was at the Bassett Avenue/W 46th Street intersection, near the Ashton Square apartments. Ashton Square and Somerset Glen were built in the early ’70s, and the Reedy Creek canal cuts through and between them on both sides of Westover Hills Boulevard. Just east of the apartments, the concrete ends for a few blocks (it briefly picks back up near Dunston and Roanoke). There is a city-owned forested area just north of the intersection where water drains from the neighborhood into the creek.
The final stop on the tour was at Crooked Branch Ravine Park. This park is hidden away behind Forest Hill Terrace on the eastern end, and the public access is at the dead end of Northrop Street. Tour guide Bill Shanabruch animatedly discussed the fauna found in properly-functioning ecosystems, how a healthy streambed looks (loose rocks for the critters to hide in) and the effects of erosion.
David Hathcock also provided some photos of the activities at the lake:
More than 150 people participated Sunday in a tour of the Reedy
Creek watershed and events at Forest Hill Lake. The event was designed
to show the importance of the watershed and its impact downstream on
Forest Hill Lake. In addition to bus shuttles, there were children’s
activities involving Patrick Henry School for the Sciences and Arts,
Good Shepherd Episcopal School, Tree Stewards, the Reedy Creek Coalition
and the Friends of Forest Hill Park, and the Department of Parks,
Recreation and Community Facilities.