$205k state grant to Town, Knox for Turkey Creek Watershed improved water quality

Tennessee Department of Agriculture last week awarded a 319(h) joint grant of $205,500 to Knox County, Town of Farragut and City of Knoxville to improve water quality in the Turkey Creek watershed.

The start date for this grant was Monday, July 1.

“I have to commend our staff for working hard to get these grants,” Farragut Mayor Ron Williams said. “I tell you, the staff really goes over, above and beyond what most people think they would do in getting these grants.

“It’s all about the staff and their hard work to get the grant money,” he added.

Williams said the Town has not been notified on the breakdown of the grant funding to each government, but he said, “Of course, anything you can do to improve the water.

“The whole Turkey Creek basin ends up in Farragut,” he added. “It starts at Black Oak ridge that goes between Farragut and Yarnell Road.

“If you look at the (Turkey Creek) tributaries, they fill up with silt and brush over a period of time … it needs to be cleaned out. When you look at what you could do, there are always a long list of things that can be done, but a lot of it has to do with how much (funding) we will be getting and what we actually can use it for. We will know that, hopefully, shortly.

Often, “when you get those kind of grants, they’re very, very specific on what you can do with the money,” Williams said. “We will be learning that soon.”

“Turkey Creek is on Tennessee’s 303(d) list of impaired streams for sedimentation and high bacteria levels,” a TDA press release stated.

According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the primary cause of the impairment in the Turkey Creek Watershed is its location in a high-density urbanized area, where sediment and bacteria easily can wash into waterways.

The press release stated, “The grant will provide up to 75 percent cost-share funds to homeowners and commercial property owners to support green infrastructure projects that will improve water quality in the watershed, including:

• “Detention pond retrofits in commercial and residential areas,

• “Septic system repairs (focused on the North Fork Turkey Creek area),

• “Residential rain garden installations,

• “Grassy swales/vegetative filter strips/porous pavement installations to replace concrete drainageways, and

• “Streambank stabilization and stream buffer planting.”

In addition to those projects, the release stated the grant will support several community outreach and education efforts, including:

• Targeted mailing to inform the public of opportunities to participate,

• Educational visits to classrooms and community groups,

• Stream/wetland clean-up volunteer opportunities,

• “Make-it, take-it” rain barrel workshops and rain barrel sales, and

• Pet waste disposal stations installed in high-use areas.

To determine if you live in the Turkey Creek Watershed, visit kgis.org and select the “Watersheds” map under “Other Maps.”

For more information, call Knox County Stormwater, 865-215-5800.