Tannehill Branch at Willowbrook Park
This residential park had been well-maintained and groomed when the water quality department of the city acquired it. As the city began working on a water quality enhancement plan, they continued to maintain the trail, but the rest of the park was left to develop on its own. The vegetation grew quickly and much of the park had soon grown wild. The residents that lived in the area decided that they would allow the vegetation to remain as it had grown, rather than return it to its previous state.
The restoration of the park moved the trail away from the stream and created a large no mow zone between the trail and the road. The no mow zone, or grow zone, that was implemented increased the diversity and amount of vegetation covering the land, increased the infiltration of the water, and reduced the potential of erosion from street runoff. The amount of tree cover also increased and shaded the stream, keeping the temperature low and increasing the dissolved oxygen and the diversity of life inside the river. Mayflies were the main macroinvertebrates found in a segment of the creek, which indicated that the water was of fair quality. The location had a low temperature at 23.3°C and a high dissolved oxygen at 5.46 mg/L (Table 1). In terms of quality, Willowbrook Park came in second to the Colorado River.
This restoration project is a great example of self-design with minimally engineered components. Improvements to this project include increasing residence time of water and increasing the amount of filtration provided by thick vegetation. If the residence time could be increased, then the amount of nitrates/nitrites, most likely from home garden fertilization, entering the creek could be reduced....
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...of Austin was in a drought before the rain that fell that weekend. This could mean that the water tested was mainly what was left through this drought, along with some rainwater, as the heavy rains did not begin until after the samples had been gathered. It should also be noted that none of the sites were tested for bacterial growth such as E. coli. While certain water quality aspects might look acceptable for drinking, recreation, or wildlife in these urban stream environments, it is not truly known if the restoration projects of these five sites were successful for such activities since microbiological activity was not measured. Based on what was directly measured and observed though, the water quality department of Austin seems to be doing quite well in taking appropriate measures to improve their city’s water quality by restoring certain aspects of the streams.
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