By Nick Nunn staff writer

The City of Madison issued a public notice last week stating that the city will be requesting a variance to state environmental law in order to begin a stream bank restoration project on Horse Branch in Madison. City Manager David Nunn stated that the project would involve “simple stream bank stabilization” on the portion of Horse Branch that is located northeast of the intersection of East Washington Street and Maxey Lane in Madison.

The property site is owned by Valley Farm Community. Horse Branch Creek was listed in the Greenspace Commission’s 2010 Greenprint Guide as a greenspace opportunity, noting that the creek “winds its way through the heart of the Madison Historic District.” According to the notice, the restoration project will include the “clearing grading, and stabilizing along Horse Branch Creek to repair the eroded northern stream bank, decrease the shear bank slopes, and prevent further bank erosion.” Furthermore, the notice states that stream functionality and water quality will be improved through the installation of a longitudinal peak stone toe protection, seeding, and turf reinforcement matting.

Nunn said that this projects stems from a previous watershed assessment that the city prepared for the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of National Resources (DNR). He stated that the city had to propose a protection plan related to water quality as a requirement of the watershed assessment, Nunn added that the variance request will go through the DNR, noting that asking for a variance is a common step in the project process. “Anytime you do work in a stream, you’ve got to talk to someone,” said Nunn about the project request.

Nunn said that the Horse Branch restoration project was chosen because of the amount of city water runoff that ends up in Horse Branch. He said that the velocity and volume of the water in Horse Branch increases enough during heavy rains to cut into the banks, which, in effect, allows the creek to attempt to “straighten itself out.”

Nunn said that the restoration efforts will cause erosion in the creek to decrease but will not affect the amount of nonpoint source pollution that enters the stream. Nunn said that the city would “self perform” most of the work required for the project. He estimated that the total cost would be somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000, which would include any required subcontracting help, grading, and materials. The public may comment on the proposed restoration until May 24 by contacting the Erosion and Sediment Control Unit of the EPD. Site plans for the proposed project are also available at Madison’s City Hall.