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City invests in water quality around New Belgium

City crews partner with Equinox, an environmental design firm in Asheville, to design several systems for stormwater around the New Belgium site. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Construction around New Belgium in the River Arts District is improving the stormwater management system in the River Arts District.

"What we're looking at, ultimately, is water quality improvements through the area," McCray Coates, Stormwater Services Manager for the City of Asheville, said.

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As crews complete construction on the greenway and Penland Creek, Coates sees the city embracing sustainability.

"Our logo is 'We all live downstream,' and what we treat here on this site doesn't go to our neighbors down the river. We're certainly very in tune with that, and really like the opportunity to partner and work through projects of this nature," Coates said.

City crews partnered with Equinox, an environmental design firm in Asheville, to design several systems for stormwater around the New Belgium site.

Penland Creek was once buried between storage units, stockyards and salvage yards. Over about two and a half years of work, crews have restored the creek to its natural state.

About a thousand varieties of native plants and trees are planted there. Even the design of rock pools and tiers as the creek drains into the French Broad helps to filter sediment.

"You have to come out here when it rains," David Tuch, President of Equinox, said. "The whole thing just fills up with water. It is amazing."

Penland Creek is designed to manage flooding and its impacts on the neighborhood. "This is going to be a model project, not only for the city, but also for the state of North Carolina," Tuch said.

Other systems are implemented along Craven Street.

"We've actually been able to go out and put pervious parking along the roadway. So, that's a first for the City of Asheville," Coates explained.

Pervious parking materials retain rainwater and help to cool it before it hits rivers and streams.

Coates says he looks forward to the completion of the greenway this summer, when visitors and locals can interact with the systems they've built.

"Water quality affects everyone. It allows us to come out and enjoy the rivers," Coates said.

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