When interviewed recently, several people on Squire Lane pointed to the vegetation that seems to clog the creek south of their homes. The creek is wider to the north of Melgaard Road than it is to the south.
City Engineer Robin Bobzien said there’s no doubt that cattails slow the water down, though he’s not sure of the degree. There is a narrow path in the middle of the creek where the water is not impeded, he said.
But cattails are also in other parts of the creek.
“You can take a look all the way down the Moccasin Creek, and there’s cattail growth in a lot of those areas that have fairly shallow water,” Bobzien said.
There are also cattails on the north side of town as well, and in other drainage channels around the community, he said.
The real problem, though, is there has been too much water in recent years, Bobzien said. We are in a “very, very wet cycle that we in our lifetime have not seen.”
It’s hard to blame the flooding in south Aberdeen on the cattails south of Melgaard Road because there has also been flooding on the north side of town, he said. And that water also has to come through that same channel, he said.
The Camino Real neighborhood and other areas experienced more water than usual the last couple of years. There was more water on the north side of town than the culverts and the channels there could handle, Bobzien said. That water spilled over into and carried through Moccasin Creek.
A natural process of sedimentation occurs in flat streams, such as the Mog.
One of the issues for Moccasin Creek “is there is no velocity 99 percent of the time,” Bobzien said.
During the spring, you see water moving.
“But most of the year, you don’t see that,” he said.
Moccasin Creek has a 4 percent grade, said Aberdeen City Councilwoman Laure Swanson, who’s done a lot of work involving Moccasin Creek.
“Water has to have a certain amount of movement — 2 foot-per-second velocity — in order to carry sediment, and we’re less than a quarter of that,” Bobzien said.
The sediment drops out in areas where there are cattails. With that sedimentation, during periods of lower water levels “the cattail growth is going to be very pronounced,” Bobzien said.
Over the years, many Moccasin Creek solutions have been suggested. One involved filling in the creek. Others called for a grassy channel that would be more attractive.
But Bobzien points out that the creek is a floodway. If something major is done, the water will be displaced.
And, he noted, a significant project would involve lots of permitting and probably lots of money.
On Saturday, a group of people met in Aberdeen to discuss the Mog. That group was inspired by the “Mr. Yuk” symbol that was placed in the creek in August.
“This new generation of interested people, like the Mr. Yuk Fan Club, gives me more inspiration to continue our quest to revitalize the creek,” Swanson wrote in an email to the American News.
The city of Aberdeen and the James River Water Development District have already developed a master plan that was prepared with community input, Swanson pointed out. A revitalization committee made of the mayor, Swanson, Pete Carrells, Jim Barringer, Mary Jo Maxwell and Nancy and Mark Flint have met over the last several years pursuing a grant through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program.
“We have exhausted those efforts,” Swanson wrote. “I feel now that I’m on the council, I can take a more active lead with the help of the city to solicit or sponsor funding for assessment and engineering of the project.”