Lake Norman & Mooresville

Town seeking approval to assess river’s health

Mooresville is seeking to evaluate a stretch of waterway just west of downtown, requesting an environmental assessment of its health.

The study would cover a little more than a half-mile of Reeds Creek, from West Wilson Avenue to the southern end of the Mooresville Golf Course, examining its biological and ecological conditions to determine whether it should undergo restoration.

“We believe that the stream does need some work done to it,” said Jon Young, an engineer for the town. He cited signs of erosion along its banks as a result of flooding.

The town is awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the study, which commissioners unanimously approved earlier this month and which the Corps’s Wilmington office would conduct. It would cost about $50,000 in federal funds and take four months or so to complete, Young said.

Should the study find that the stretch does in fact need to be restored, the town would help pay for an additional assessment to determine how to do so.

The study is significant partly because Reeds Creek winds its way into Lake Norman, which supplies drinking water to a number of surrounding municipalities including Mooresville. Originating near the intersection of U.S. 21 and N.C. 115, its watershed is relatively large, draining nearly 5 square miles, or some 3,100 acres.

The nearby golf course and its renovation, Young said, have not affected the health of the waterway. He said the course has in place erosion controls to reduce the amount of sediment, including catch basins and silt fences, which are typically used around construction sites. Moreover, officials at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which is responsible for issuing permits for those controls, have visited a number of times.

Instead, it has seen its share of stormwater runoff because it’s downstream from impervious surfaces such as parking lots and roads. There also have been a number of sewage spills in recent years.

In 2013, a little more than 200,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilled in the creek near Golf Course Drive after a sewer pump malfunctioned, according to a local news report. A town official at the time was quoted as saying that the spill was not large enough to cause immediate health or environmental problems.

“We’ve had a number of conversations” with state environmental officials, Young said of the health of the creek. Years ago, the town and the state restored nearly 15 acres of wetlands a little farther downstream, near where the creek empties into Lake Norman, that had degraded as a result of sand dredging. Referring to the stretch flowing through the golf course, he added, “We’d like to see it come back to what it was.”

Despite any concerns about the health of the stretch, wildlife is abundant.

“It’s amazing what exists out there,” said Young, who recalled seeing a large softshell turtle paddling through the water there earlier this year.

Jake Flannick is a freelance writer: