In March 2012, three joint MS4 permit holders including the City of Columbia, Boone County, and the University of Missouri agreed with U.S. EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to use collaborative adaptive management (CAM) to address water quality concerns in Hinkson Creek. CAM has been used to address large to moderate scale ecological restoration efforts (e. g. in the Everglades); however, this is the first time that CAM will be used to address water quality impairment.
Hinkson Creek flows through an urbanizing watershed from northeast of Columbia through the city and the University of Missouri campus and into Perche Creek. It was placed on the Clean Water Act 303(d) list in 1998 because invertebrate populations in the creek indicated that the stream’s health was impaired; however, no single or group of pollutants could be identified as the cause of the impairment. One of the strengths of the CAM process is its ability to support ‘learning by doing’ in complex physio-biological systems where significant scientific uncertainties exist.
The CAM agreement established clear processes, including scientifically-based decision-making and a citizen’s stakeholder committee, to address the water quality challenges. The stakeholder committee is supported by a science team and an engineering-focused action team. The two teams propose projects to improve water quality and scientific investigations to increase understanding of Hinkson Creek. This has built a common understanding of the watershed and promoted trust in local decisions. The proceedings are hosted on the county’s website, and the meetings are open to the public to promote transparency.
Results to Date:
The stakeholder committee has approved three scientific investigations focused on physical habitat conditions and completed three comprehensive invertebrate samplings, and the city, county and university have implemented a number of projects to address storm water runoff. The process has matured to a stage at which stakeholders are suggesting projects for consideration by the science and action teams.
Assistant Director for Science and Technology
Missouri Department of Natural Resources