Davenport pollution project aims to clean Duck Creek

DAVENPORT -

A new project hopes to reduce pollution along Duck Creek by trying a rural technique in an urban area for the first time.

Duck Creek, which seems like a Davenport oasis, also contains pollutants that threaten its watershed.

Along 32nd Street, just east of Harrison Street, it looks like a construction site.  Turns out, it's also a conservation site.

"It's a large manhole that separates the water," gestured Amy Kay, Davenport's clean water manager, on Wednesday, August 2.

Davenport and the State of Iowa are teaming up to build a saturated buffer and a bioreactor.  It looks like a big trench, filled with wood mulch, that will act like a giant filter.

"Pop bottles, cigarette butts, other trash that gets washed off will get trapped in this structure," she continued. Things like phosphorous, nitrate and nitrite will naturally break down before water enters the creek.

Storm runoff from some 11 acres nearby contribute to the pollution.  Scientists are using strategy from the farm and trying it in the city.

"We're intercepting drainage water, storm water, from an urban runoff," said Will Myers, water quality projects coordinator for the State of Iowa.

In past years, water samples detected pollution in Duck Creek.  This project could help to reverse the trend.

"It's water quality testing, really, to try to improve the quality of our waters," said Kay.  "Make them healthier and safer for humans and our aquatic ecosystem."

One goal is to help the city co-exist with the creek in a cleaner way. The pilot could be a prototype for other urban areas in Iowa.

"We have a lot of other communities that are watching what Davenport's doing as a leader in this effort," Myers said.

When testing begins this Fall, it just could make Duck Creek a healthier watershed for years to come.