Friday, April 25th, 2014

Saving Blacklick Creek

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
Blacklick Creek in Three Creeks Metro Park near Groveport.

It flows through four counties, is 30 miles long, drains 63 square miles, and 82,000 people live within its watershed.

It is Blacklick Creek and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is looking for ideas on how to protect this beautiful fresh water source, one of several major creeks in central Ohio.

"Water is right there behind air in importance to maintaining life," said MORPC Watershed Coordinator David Rutter. "Ohio has a lot of water, which is a valuable resource in a world where places like Arizona and California are limited by water restrictions. As long as we take care of our waterways, like Blacklick Creek, and keep them clean, we will maintain a great resource for our economy and for recreation."

Rutter lead a community discussion seeking public input regarding the creation of a Watershed Action Plan for Blacklick Creek at the Madison Township Community Center on March 25. Two more public meetings about the creek are planned, one March 30 from 6-8 p.m. at Blacklick Woods Metro Park in the Beech Maple Lodge; and another on April 6 from 6-8 p.m. at Tartan East Golf Club, 6140 Babbitt Road, New Albany.

The goal is to come up with a plan to make Blacklick Creek safe for fishing, and swimming as well as to maintain its natural state. A final version of the plan is expected by the end of 2009.

Pollution causes and sources

Rutter said pollution in Blacklick Creek comes from a variety of pollutants that wash into the creek as run off farm fields, streets, rooftops, parking lots, and lawns. These include:

•fertilizers and pesticides from lawns and farm fields cause algae growth which reduces oxygen in the water and kills fish and insects;

•pathogens from pet waste and sewage from failing septic systems disrupt water chemistry and reduce oxygen levels in the water;

•mud from construction sites smother the creek bottom with sediment covering the organisms that live there;

•heavy metals from industry;

•organic compounds from petroleum products leak onto roads and driveways and eventually wash into waterways.

Rutter said that, if fish and bugs can survive in a waterway, then that means the creek is relatively healthy. However, 47 percent of Blacklick Creek is rated fair or poor for fish and bugs.

Besides the stream itself, Rutter noted it is important to also maintain the tree corridor and habitat around a waterway. Such a corridor promotes life and also acts as a filter for a creek.

"Trees and prairie grasses have deep roots which hold the soil. Turf grass, like in lawns, does not," said Rutter.

Pavement makes it difficult to maintain habitats because it is impervious and promotes run off. During high water times, the run off from pavement creates a peak flow that contributes to erosion and flooding.

For example, in Reynoldsburg, though parts of the creek are eight feet below the surrounding floodplain, a major stormwater run off from developed land can still cause deep erosion in the creek bank.

About Blacklick Creek

•Blacklick Creek extends from Delaware County south through eastern and southeastern Franklin County to Three Creeks Metro Park passing through 17 government jurisdictions along the way.

•According to MORPC, about 40 percent of the land around Blacklick Creek is still agricultural. But by 2030, the amount of agricultural land around the creek is expected to drop below 1 percent.

•The southern portion of Blacklick Creek, which eventually flows into Big Walnut Creek and Alum Creek in Three Creeks Metro Park, is more pastoral and open with a broad 100 year floodplain.

•The northern portion of the creek is surrounded by more developed urban land.

"Blacklick Creek has areas I’d put up against Big Darby Creek as far as beauty," said Rutter. "It’s a hidden gem."

For information on MORPC’s Watershed Action Plan, visit www.morpc.org.

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