DNR calls for less stormwater to Hinkson Creek

The proposal still has to be approved by the EPA.
Hinkson Creek tributary, located near the intersection of Sixth and Providence streets runs parallel to the MU Power Plant. Urban growth in Columbia has led to an increased amount of storm water runoff flowing into the creek, polluting water and endangering wildlife.

The city, county and university should work to reduce stormwater runoff to HInkson Creek by more than two-thirds, according to a proposal from the state presented Tuesday.

In a report presented for public comment, Anne Peery, total maximum daily load developer for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said urban growth in south Columbia over the past decade has decreased the amount of space where rainwater can soak into the ground and increased the amount of stormwater runoff flowing to Hinkson Creek, polluting the water and endangering the wildlife.

“A whole bunch of things occurred which caused problems in the stream,” Peery said. “A lot of those points were noticed by the public and commented on to DNR.”

A draft report on the Total Maximum Daily Load for Hinkson Creek stated Columbia, Boone County and MU all must come up with ideas for reducing the stormwater runoff by 68 percent.

Peery said there was no single “smoking gun” causing Hinkson Creek to be so polluted, but attributed it mainly to increased and more polluted water flowing to the creek with the city’s growth since 1993.

Stormwater managers for the city, county and university all had several questions for Peery about how exactly to implement such large reduction. The TMDL does not demand any specific changes in their stormwater management plans, but asks the managers to research and suggest potential solutions to the department.

The report calls for future reductions of 68 percent from current levels, meaning additional reductions would have to be made to account for future urban growth. Boone County Stormwater Management Coordinator Georganne Bowmann said the county would likely have to retrofit several buildings to get significant reductions and because the state or federal government does not reimburse such retrofitting, the burden of paying for the TMDL falls on county taxpayers.

“A 68 percent reduction is pretty substantial,” Bowmann said. “This would fall on the residents of Columbia and secondarily on the residents of Boone County living near the Hinkson.”

The report does not contain a set schedule with benchmarks for specific reductions over time, but rather Peery said the department would look for a “good-faith effort” from each of the entities.

The report said one potential problem resulting from excess runoff would be higher and more frequent floods. Columbia resident Barbara Wren said she has already seen such flooding on her property in southeast Columbia.

“The water is staying in our yard longer and it’s getting up closer to our home,” Wren said. “It’s increased especially in the last five years, so whatever changed in the last five or 10 years is probably what started it.”

The public may submit comments about the TMDL draft to the Department of Natural Resources via postal mail, e-mail or telephone through Oct. 18. Peery said the department will respond by letter to individual comments and will consider posting all comments publicly.

After that date, the department will finalize the TMDL report, only submitting it for public comment again if its figures significantly change.

Peery said the department must submit the final draft to the Environmental Protection Agency by December. The EPA will then officially have 30 days to review and approve it, but Peery said process could take as long as a year.

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