Brookhaven Creek Rehabilitation Project

The Conservation Commission’s Water Quality Division continues its efforts to improve the state’s waterways with an innovative wetland project.  

Phase one of a project to rehabilitate parts of Brookhaven Creek in Norman is now complete. The project by the City of Norman, Oklahoma Conservation Commission and Watershed Restoration Inc. is designed to reduce flooding and create a wetland. The project was featured as the lead story in the Norman Transcript newspaper on Sept. 18, 2010, and can be viewed online at Brookhaven Creek Rehab Underway.

This photo by Chris Dubois shows one of the Newbury riffles at the Brookhaven Creek Project.

Chris DuBois, OCC/WQ Wetlands Program coordinator, is the lead OCC staffer working on the project. Representing Watershed Restoration, Inc., a non-profit organization, are two former OCC/WQ employees, Geoff Canty and Russ Dutnell, and Dr. Robert Nairn of the University of Oklahoma.

“The restoration of this half mile stretch of Brookhaven Creek will also serve as a demonstration of innovative stormwater remediation that is a pioneering step for Oklahoma,” DuBois said.

Ten “Newbury riffles” have been installed along the creek between Crossroads Boulevard and Rock Creek Road. Newbury riffles, created by Newbury Hydraulics, are man-made clusters of large rocks designed to prevent erosion and help with grade stabilization, fish passage and habitat and reconnecting stream channels. The structures also allow city maintenance vehicles to cross the creek without disturbing flow or habitat.  An agreement has been signed for the city to maintain future wetland plantings and manage the stream corridor by restricting mowing locations and frequency.

In the next few months the second phase will be complete and approximately 7,000 trees, shrubs and other small wetlands plants will be in place. The whole system will work together to filter fertilizers, oil, gas and other pollutants from runoff water going into the creek. The created wetlands area, a modified detention pond north of Rock Creek Road adjacent to I-35, will significantly benefit wildlife, already abundant in the area while reducing peak stream flows by detaining storm water runoff. The final phase of the project will include a 10-foot-wide walking trail to attract families for recreational and educational activities. The city will fund the final phase, connecting the area to its greenway and trail system.

Funding for the project came through a $175,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the  Oklahoma Conservation Commission. The City of Norman has  provided local match with $50,000 of cash and $50,000 of in-kind efforts.