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Mon, Nov. 11

Local creeks organization gets $455K grant award from ADEQ

PRESCOTT - An ongoing effort to improve water quality in Granite Creek and Watson Lake took another step forward this week with a grant award to the Prescott Creeks organization.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced Thursday that it had awarded $455,895 to the local organization "to restore ecosystem processes and create green infrastructure demonstration projects along Granite Creek in the Whipple Street and Cliff Rose areas of Prescott."

The money is slated to help Prescott Creeks set up "microbasins" - areas of rocks and native vegetation that would allow the pollutants in runoff water to be absorbed and broken down through microbiological processes.

Michael Byrd, executive director of Prescott Creeks, said the grant would help the organization continue the work that has been going on for years.

He explained that ADEQ previously awarded grant money to other Prescott Creeks efforts, including the Watson Wood Riparian Preserve Restoration Project, and a watershed improvement planning process.

The ADEQ news release pointed out that the water quality improvement grant awards to Prescott Creeks date back to 2007 and 2008, and total more than $1 million.

The recent watershed improvement planning process emphasized that the contaminants in Granite Creek and Watson Lake come from no one major polluter, but rather from a broad range of sources.

Integral to the watershed improvement plan were several recommendations for projects that could help to improve water quality. Among the suggested projects was the series of microbasins - one at the Four-Point intersection, directly across from Yavapai Regional Medical Center, and another near the Prescott Adult Center in the Cliff Rose area.

Byrd noted that a basin already exists at the Whipple Street site (at Four-Points, near Taco Bell), where runoff water collects, but has no detention function. The water immediately drains into a pipe and eventually enters Granite Creek.

"Our proposal involves taking a look at the basin and redesigning it," he said. "We'll add native vegetation that will help filter the water."

The second microbasin will involve a similar area near the Adult Center building on Rosser Street. Byrd said the goal is to develop a basin that would slow down the water, and let natural processes clean it.

Henry Darwin, director of ADEQ, said in the news release that the grant to Prescott Creeks "will help restore water quality in one of the key watersheds in the state north of Phoenix and assist the Prescott Creeks group in bringing back another im-portant part of that riparian area to its natural state."

Byrd said Thursday that the organization is "very pleased that DEQ selected us. We're trying to make our community a better place and find practical ways of doing that."

Granite Creek and Watson Lake are listed as impaired for E. coli, a bacterium that is an indicator of fecal pollution, as well as for having oxygen levels that are insufficient for a healthy aquatic environment, according to the ADEQ news release.

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