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news & stories from the City of Auburn

Creating cleaner water through intentional landscaping

With the help of a grant, two City departments are furthering efforts to install landscaping that cleans runoff water before it reaches Parkerson Mill Creek.

The City of Auburn’s Public Works and Water Resource Management departments are teaming up to improve water quality in local creeks while engaging residents in maintaining Auburn’s natural resources — all thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Last week, the foundation announced the winners of its 2022 Five Star and Urban Waters grant that “seeks to develop nationwide community stewardship of local natural resources.” The program specifically focuses on improving water quality, watersheds and habitats through local partnerships and outreach.

The City of Auburn was the sole Alabama recipient, receiving $45,200 toward a project at the H.C. Morgan Water Pollution Control Facility. The wastewater treatment facility is located in the Parkerson Mill Creek Watershed, and stormwater from the facility flows into Parkerson Mill Creek. In 2019, the City began planting landscape buffers to help filter the runoff water before it reaches the creek, reducing pollution and lowering property maintenance costs.

The grant-funded project will include expanding the landscape buffer and building bioretention cells at four strategic points where stormwater leaves the facility. More than three acres of native plants will be planted, filtering stormwater and providing habitat for native pollinators and birds while reducing maintenance costs at the facility.

“Parkerson Mill Creek is a valuable resource to our community,” Watershed Program Coordinator Dusty Kimbrow said. “Implementing this project will not only help to improve its water quality, but also provide educational opportunities to learn about the importance of all of our local water resources and how we can all work together to protect them for future generations.”

A key element of the project will be community involvement. The City is partnering with Auburn University’s Water Resources Center and Bee Lab as well as Westervelt Ecological Resources to design and install the landscaping and provide workshops for the public about bioretention, stormwater management, water quality monitoring and more. Local Girl Scouts will lend a hand in planting over 2,000 longleaf pine seedlings at the site as they contribute to the Girl Scouts’ Million Tree Challenge, and other volunteer opportunities will be available for the community to pitch in.

“Each piece of this project is designed to make an immediate impact on the water quality in the Parkerson Mill watershed while improving long-term watershed stewardship in Auburn,” Interim Public Works Director Dan Ballard said. “By engaging the community in a purposeful way, we hope to increase awareness and understanding of watershed management and equip residents with tools and skills to make a broader impact throughout the community.”

Work is expected to begin this winter. For more information, contact Water Resource Management’s Watershed Division at 334-501-3060 or

A butterfly perches on a wildflower in the existing landscape buffer at the H.C. Morgan Water Pollution Control Facility.

Four of the stormwater outfalls at the H.C. Morgan Water Pollution Control Facility will be transformed into bioretention cells.

The existing landscape buffer will be expanded with more than three acres of native plants.