Construction crews and biologists are digging in deep and giving Waynesboro's riverfront real estate a facelift. Officials say that this will not only add aesthetic value, but more importantly - benefit the environment.
The first phase of the South River Restoration Project took place in 2012 near the bridge. Last week, a new phase of the project took off. Organizers say once the work is complete; it should help improve animal habitats as well as the health of the river.
"It's going to be a little messy for a while because we're actually in there with the equipment, but we're using best professional judgment to minimize impacts of that. And the idea is you know, a short-term impact for a long-term gain," said Louise Finger, stream restoration biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Finger says back when there was a dam downstream, the water and river took a structural hit. Now, Waynesboro and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are partnering to restore the channels to more varied levels, as well as add landscaping along the river.
"Some of it is plantings along the park, along the edge of the stream. And then some of it is improving the aquatic habitat actually in the channel. And one component of that is depth, and then also introducing some cover material. So, the overall habitat value will be improved by that as well," said Finger.
Finger says the sediment buildup caused the channel to split, and now they're working to add a pool to help species in and outside of the water.
"We're trying to first and foremost enhance the community's connection with the river, which the South River is a great community asset. The other thing we're trying to do is reap some ecological benefits," said Trafford McRae, project manager.
Besides evening things out, McRae says the work will curb pollution and runoff.
By adding more plants and trees along the side, the water temperature will stay cooler and park visitors can appreciate the park even more.
"I think it's going to be a really good project. I think it's going to enhance the area along the river and then hopefully help folks reconnect," said McRae.
In-stream construction will take a couple more weeks. Then, crews will add stormwater management facilities in the parking lot.
The project is mostly funded by a grant from American Rivers and the EPA for about $160,000, and the city is forking over another $45,000 for the project.
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