Before this project was completed, Meeker Creek flowed through a straight man-made ditch in a suburban neighborhood of Puyallup, Washington. The artificial nature of the creek caused problems for residents and wildlife alike. Poor water quality and a lack of spawning and off-channel habitat meant very low salmon populations, and the creek often flooded during rain events, affecting nearby homeowners.
To address these problems, the City of Puyallup decided to move 1,100 feet of Meeker Creek into a new channel. The project was part of a comprehensive effort to improve stream water quality to meet a Washington State Department of Ecology mandate and improve storm water management throughout the city.
Puyallup hired GeoEngineers to develop conceptual designs, final bid-ready construction plans and specifications for a new, naturally winding stream channel. The plans included a wetland floodplain to improve water quality, reduce flooding, and improve salmon habitat. The team decided to route the new channel through an area of invasive reed canary grass—simultaneously removing this undesirable vegetation while avoiding any impact on nearby riparian plantings from an earlier mitigation project.
The restored section of Meeker Creek flows into Clarks Creek, a larger stream. Meeker Creek’s much lower base flow and higher response flow from storms and groundwater created a hydrology challenge for GeoEngineers as the team had to balance the dramatic differences between the two flows at their confluence. By installing a stream gauge and developing a hydraulic model to adjust for observed results, the team was able to predict the behavior of the new Meeker Creek channel.
The new floodplain is predicted to reduce flooding in adjacent residential areas and increase fish habitat. By designing the marsh to flood frequently as water levels fluctuate, the team encouraged sediment deposition in the freshwater marsh region of the channel. At the confluence with Clarks Creek, the new channel featured a low velocity area to provide off-channel refuge for juvenile salmon, an important habitat type that was missing from the old stream channel and Clarks Creek.
The City of Puyallup contracted with LKE Corporation to perform excavation and construction according to design plans. Watch the video below, produced by LKE, to see Meeker Creek under construction.
By carefully measuring pre-construction channel flows and modeling the future behavior of Meeker and Clarks Creeks, GeoEngineers’ River Science Team designed and delivered comprehensive plans for a natural channel and floodplain. The overall design of Meeker Creek will significantly improve water quality and salmon habitat and reduce the risk of flooding in adjacent residential neighborhoods.