Floodplain Acquisition, Stream Restoration and Floodplain Restoration
What used to be a nondescript stretch of Little Sugar Creek behind a row of brick businesses and warehouses will become a green gathering spot for the NoDa area. Storm Water Services has completed the project to:
- buy creekside buildings that repeatedly flooded
- restore 1,100 linear feet of stream
- enhance the floodplain.
Final project mailer (March 2012)
Little Sugar Creek before restoration
Soon after restoration was finished
- Eliminate risk of future loss of life and property along Cullman Avenue due to flooding
- Eliminate the release of environmentally-hazardous materials due to flooding of industrial buildings
- Enhance the natural and beneficial functions of the floodplain by creating green space along the creek
- Improve habitat for aquatic life in the stream and wildlife near the water
- Provide amenities for residents in the restored open space
Long history of flooding
This section of Little Sugar Creek is highly prone to flash flooding. Storm Water Services began this project in 2003 with the purchase of flood-prone property along the creek near Cullman Avenue. Those buildings were in a high-risk area and had flooded at least three times since the mid-1990's. By 2008, twelve buildings in this part of the floodplain had been purchased and demolished.
Restoring the stream
Starting in late 2011, Storm Water Services began reshaping the path of the stream along Cullman Avenue downstream from 36th Street. Gentle curves were added to slow the flow of the water, which reduces erosion. The restoration also stabilized and repaired the eroded bed and banks. A rain garden was added near the stream to improve water quality. The stream work will not prevent Little Sugar Creek from flooding. The main goal is cleaner creek water.
Restoring the open space
The third phase of this project will be restoring the floodplain. That means returning the flood-prone land along the creek to a more natural state that won't be damaged by future floods. NoDa-area residents, business owners and artists helped decide what the restored floodplain might include.
After considering many options and drawing three concept sketches, the group decided on this plan:
View a larger image of Master Plan map
Top amenities as voted on by residents:
- putting meanders back in the stream
- adding wetlands and other pollution-removing features to the floodplain
- increasing open space
- a protected area for artwork displays, musical performances, and a farmer's market
The proposed concept plan also includes a community garden, walking trail, dog park, children's playground, informal sports area, and pedestrian bridge. Adding recreational amenities in the floodplain will require funding beyond that provided by Storm Water Services.