Columbia, South Carolina
Part of the revitalization of the mill village neighborhoods is to restore Rocky Branch, the urban stream beginning in Martin Luther King Park that flows through Five Points, the University of the South Carolina and the mill village neighborhoods, leading to the Congaree River.
A victim of unplanned urbanization, Rocky Branch is flush with pollutants and trash. Its water quality is poor, as is its handling of storm water.
Rocky Branch’s Problems
Because Rocky Branch is a degraded stream full of not only trash but also pollutants, what flows out of not only trash but also pollutants, what flows out of the branch on rainy days litters area and exposes natural wildlife, including fish and birds that feed there, to contaminants and disease.
An urban stream restoration project for Rocky Branch would include digging up the concrete structure of the branch and reconfiguring the stream into a new channel, returning it to its natural environment and to the way it looked 100 years ago.
Olympia Resident’s Coalition President Vi Hendley has led litter clean up drives for Rocky Branch. “We deserve clean air and an uncontaminated Rocky Branch,” Hendley said. “The beautiful trees wildlife and various animals are part of what enriches our community, and I would love to see the branch restored.”
The River Alliance took the mill village neighbors’ hopes and dreams, and developed a plan to restore Rocky Branch.
“The stream restoration itself could be a model for South Carolina and the nation as we deal with the problems of urban sprawl and the degradation of water quality,” said Mike Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of the River Alliance.
“Once restored, a natural appearing Rocky Branch, much as it looked 100 years ago, could become the path for the Martin Luther King Park connection to the Congaree River.”
The Three Rivers Greenway will be extended to the Five Points area, opening up the Greenway to residents and University students for easy access by way of Martin Luther King Park/Rocky Branch Greenway.
The Martin Luther King Park/Rocky Branch Greenway will include lights, landscaping, signage, call boxes and places to rest and picnic.