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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Poarch Tribe (Section 319I - 1994)

Constructed Wetlands Reduce NPS Pollution

Sediment bars building up from upstream croplands on a tributary in southern Alabama prompted the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to use section 319 funds to reduce this nonpoint source pollution. These monies have enabled the tribe to construct a wetland treatment system to reduce - pollution from agricultural runoff on tribal lands. On the Perdido Creek tributary, sediment and nutrients from upstream croplands--primarily vegetable gardens and cotton--have created excessive sediment bars. The selected demonstration area is a 3-acre site within a drainage way that had previously been channelized and cleared of riparian vegetation. The channel is dry except when rainfall is high.

Using section 319 funds, the tribe constructed a wetland system with multiple compartments or cells. The initial cell will remove sediments from the first flush--the portion of runoff immediately after a rainfall that contains large amounts of pollutants--before it enters the constructed wetland cells. The following cells will detain the first flush for biological treatment.

To increase its participation and knowledge of nonpoint source pollution, the tribe constructed the system, using its own labor and equipment. Revegetation is by natural introduction and propagation. Upstream and downstream monitoring will evaluate vegetation before the next planting season to determine if replanting with cattails is necessary.

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