Gorrie Creek Water Quality Improvement
Thirty percent of the drinking water for the city of Springfield comes from the Springfield Utility Board well field located between the Middle Fork Willamette River and Gorrie Creek. The well system is shallow, so the quality of the water in the wells is directly impacted by the surface water bodies that recharge them. Currently, water quality is very good and the quantity of water is meeting Springfield’s needs. However, the Eugene-Springfield metro area is the third largest in the state of Oregon, and the expanding urban area – coupled with climate change – will put additional pressure on water resources.
The section of Gorrie Creek that flows through the Springfield well field is dominated by reed canary grass, an invasive species that can choke out native plants, does not provide good habitat for birds and wildlife, and utilizes a significant amount of soil moisture which can decrease water quantity in the stream. Reed canary grass also negatively impacts water quality and hydrology by trapping silt and constricting waterways. Significant algal growth occurs in this stream during summer months.
The Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council has been working with the Springfield Utility Board since 2017 to remove reed canary grass without the use of herbicides and replant with native riparian vegetation. As the native vegetation grows, it will shade the stream, reducing water temperatures and improving water quality. Additionally, native vegetation has deeper and more complex root systems than the invasive grasses, so it will create more pathways for water to percolate through the soil and recharge the groundwater. The project seeks to complete work on the entirety of this creek, replanting with native vegetation to further protect Springfield’s drinking water.
* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge