The process of restoring streams from underground or back alleys— known as “day lighting”—is arduous, but a University of Arkansas (UA) researcher claims the effort is worth it.
Marty Matlock, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering with the Arkansas Division of Agriculture, argues that bringing streams to the front of developments and restoring them to a natural state will yield long-term economic and health benefits. Natural streams disinfect water and treat nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, said Matlock.
“We're drinking that stuff, or at least someone else is, and if we keep shoving it down a concrete stream, somebody, somewhere has to treat it,” said Matlock. “If we can increase the ecological services upstream and preserve them, it will ultimately reduce costs of treatment and increase confidence in our drinking water.”
Matlock and his research group recently completed the first phase of a greenway development in Rogers, Ark. By returning Blossom Branch Creek to its floodplain and restoring ecological services to the creek, the stream system will control flooding, decrease the need to treat nutrients in the stream, and provide a recreation venue for community residents. UA researchers analyzed the creek's ecological services, hydrology, and geomorphology, then worked with the city to design a park, including a recreational trail. The researchers also supervised construction of the project. Additionally, Matlock's group has received a $135,000 grant from the city of Fayetteville to identify and evaluate streams that need to be restored