Smack dab in the middle of New Belgium’s east coast brewery site is a creek that drains approximately 150 acres of West Asheville into the French Broad River. This watershed is one of the most urbanized in Asheville, so the creek experiences large swings in water levels since water runs off of urbanized surfaces much faster than if they were still forested. The stream was identified for restoration as an opportunity for the City of Asheville to address water quality issues contributing to the French Broad and in doing so, was designed so that New Belgium could celebrate it as a central feature on their site. Equinox worked with Wolf Creek Engineering to complete the design.
Equinox Landscape Designer Megan Foy recalled “at one of the first site visits we did with Wolf Creek Engineering we approached the stream corridor and could find no water”. Not only was the existing five foot culvert under Craven Street choked down to only about a foot due to sedimentation, the stream disappeared into a hole in the ground which indicated just how much debris must exist subsurface. How do you design a stream restoration when the stream disappears below ground? The actual design of the channel was somewhat complicated by this fact, along with the narrow channel width, facilities and active use areas being constructed adjacent to its banks, and wall systems that were needed to achieve the adjacent uses of the site. One innovative technique, for example, involved the installation of membrane “curtains” upstream of each boulder in-stream structure, forcing the sub-surface water to the surface, and to spill over the boulders. Overall, a great deal of thought and detail went into the design of the stream restoration which was later dubbed Penland Creek.