AUSTIN (KXAN) - More than three years after botched subdivision construction jobsent tons of silt and sediment roaring down Hamilton Creek in areastraddling Hays and Travis Counties, the clean-up is finallyunderway.
Crews are using small equipment like bobcats in the moreaccessible parts of the six-mile-long section of the creek that wasfouled by the pollution. In many places, though, the tools in useare brooms, rakes and fire hoses. Eventually, they will work theirway down the creek and tackle a similar problem in the belovedHamilton Pool, itself.
"There was immeasurable amounts of silt and sediment that floweddown the creeks and the receiving watershed for Hamilton Pool and into Hamilton Pool, turningit to akin to a cup of coffee," said Dr. Victoria Harkins, a civilengineer with Espey Consultants, who is serving as project directorfor the clean-up for Travis County.
The disaster was discovered in May of 2007 when Travis Countystaff people were doing a helicopter survey of some new park land.They were horrified by the what they saw when they looked down atthe pool, part of a nature preserve the county controls.
Following a heavy rain, creek water pouring into the pool was asickly coffee color. The chopper headed upstream and six miles fromthe pool, they found heavy equipment at work on the ground on aroad through a new subdivision. Crews had brought in tons of dirtfor the project and protective barriers had not held. It was, inthe words of county officials, nothing short of catastrophic. Nowchoked with silt, the creek is overgrown with non-nativevegetation.
As the clean-up proceeds, hardened sediment on top is crackedopen and fire hoses wash the stuff downstream.
"We have temporary sedimentation ponds built in along the creekso that we hold the water and then we de-water, clean the silt outas best we can and move down to the next section," Harkinssaid.
"Already, the crews are clearing whole sections of the creekexposing bed rock, while leaving undisturbed the natural gravelthat was once entirely covered in silt. The cleanup of the entirespan and of the pool itself should be completed by the first of theyear.
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