Smith Mill Creek

 Smith Mill Creek 9-element Watershed Plan

Watershed: Smith Mill Creek Watershed

Location: Buncombe County, NC: Leicester Community, Patton Avenue, West Asheville

Smith Mill Creek Watershed is approximately 3274 acres (5.1 sq. miles) in Buncombe County, NC. The headwaters drain the southeastern slopes of Spivey Mountain. This area is moderately rural, yet less than 15 miles from downtown Asheville. Within 3 miles of the headwaters, the watershed becomes increasingly urban as it flows along New Leicester Hwy (NC Hwy 63), then under and parallel to Patton Ave (NC Hwy 23), the most commercialized road in Asheville. Smith Mill Creek continues through Crown Plaza Resort before entering the French Broad River in the River Arts District of Asheville.  In 2001, it was termed the most polluted creek in Buncombe County, based on chemical and macroinvertebrate water quality monitoring conducted by the Volunteer Water Information Network (VWIN) Program. A map of the Smith Mill Creek Watershed can be viewed here.

RiverLink is taking a watershed-wide approach to improving the water quality in the Smith Mill Creek Watershed. In partnership with Wildlands Engineering, RiverLink has completed a 9-element Watershed Plan in the form of a web tool for the Smith Mill Creek Watershed. See plan here.

The nine key elements of our plan, that are critical for achieving improvements in water quality as identified by the EPA include:

  1. Causes and Sources of Impairment: identify sources and set goals to address impairment issues.
  2. Expected Load Reductions Expected : determine reductions needed to meet water quality standards
  3. Describe Management Measures and Targeted Critical Areas: identify management plans to reduce loads and prevention of future pollution hot spots
  4. Estimate Technical and Financial Assistance Needed: including a long term financial plan
  5. Develop an information and Education Component: Use community outreach to help educate the public on water quality, stormwater management, and other topics of interest
  6. Develop a Project Schedule: Set attainable goals in a realistic timespan
  7. Describe Interim, Measurable Milestones: define significant goals and acknowledge when they are achieved
  8. Identify Indicators to Measure Progress: develop a set of criteria that can be used to determine success or failure of project
  9. Develop a Monitoring Component: based off the criteria developed in the previous step, create a monitoring program to help determine the success of the project

As a result of the plan, we were able to:

  • Identify sources of water quality and flooding issues in the Smith Mill Creek Watershed
  • Prepare feasibility studies and conceptual plans to address water quality issues such as: sedimentation, bacteria, stormwater runoff, flooding
  • Engage stakeholders to discuss partnership opportunities on proposed projects

This project was funded by a Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant and developed in partnership with the City of Asheville Stormwater Services Department and NC Department of Transportation. In the future, we will continue to work to implement the proposed projects with funding support from NCDOT, the City of Asheville, and other grant sources.

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