By Scott Doron
In May (2022) I attended a public information event about the South Ellerbe Creek Restoration project at 808 W. Trinity Ave. I wanted to learn more about the kinds of plants, landscaping, and amenities that will eventually be installed on the site. I knew that some features in the original plan had to be cut back due to budget constraints. So I wondered, will there still be trees? Can kids play there? What can we expect in terms of aesthetic and recreational add-ons to the basic function of the wetland? Here’s what Megan Walsh, PE, Public Works Department, City of Durham, shared with me:
- In the stream and wetland areas, a variety of native plants will be planted to take up pollutants, provide biodiversity, and create wildlife habitat.
- Along W. Trinity a bioretention area, also planted with a variety of native species, will be installed to pre-treat stormwater from the street before it enters the site, and educate the public about the benefits of wetlands. Street trees will be planted along W. Trinity, and additional trees will be planted around the perimeter of the wetland and streams.
- The public will be able to enjoy a variety of recreational activities, like biking/walking on a loop trail, which will be connected to the South Ellerbe Creek Trail and the future Durham Rail Trail; observing birds and other wildlife; and picnicking and relaxing on the lawn.
Some background info…
What is the South Ellerbe Creek Restoration Project?
The City is constructing a wetland and stream restoration at 808 W. Trinity Ave. to help remove pollutants from our urban stormwater, which flows from Durham through Ellerbe Creek to Falls Lake (the drinking water for many communities, including Raleigh). Stormwater runoff from downtown Durham and nearby neighborhoods will:
1) enter the wetland through two pipes along W. Trinity Ave.,
2) then flow northward through two restored stream channels that meet near the center of the wetland, and
3) finally flow through an outlet structure at the northern end of the wetland into a tributary of South Ellerbe Creek.
During big storms, the streams and wetland will fill up with water, then slowly release it through the outlet over 2-3 days. The City will fund ongoing maintenance with its stormwater utility funds.
In addition to cleaning the water, the wetland and stream restoration will create a natural area for us all to enjoy.
For more info, including status updates, videos, and technical information on the project, see https://www.durhamnc.gov/1616