LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Legacy Trail has a lot to say about the beauty of the Bluegrass farmland. But in Coldstream Park, it also has something to say about the environmental work that is keeping Lexington’s farmland beautiful.
“We know the importance of the world-class farmland that surrounds our City,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “So we are cleaning up our streams in one of the biggest environmental projects any City our size has ever undertaken. Just like the trail, the overhaul of our sanitary sewers is a legacy to future generations.”
Near the Legacy Trail in Coldstream Park, there is a large concrete tank that is one key part of Lexington’s sewer system overhaul.
Also nearby, a stream has been restored, with wetlands that filter the water naturally. Lower Cane Run Creek is one source of water that supplies downstream communities.
The Lower Cane Run wet weather storage tank is 60 feet tall and can hold 11 million gallons of water. On most days, the tank is empty, but when it rains, the tank provides relief to Lexington’s sewer system.
During the heavy rains earlier this month, the tank held over 5 million gallons of diluted sewage and rainwater that was diverted from sanitary sewer pipes and the nearby pump station that was running at full capacity. The tank slowly releases water back into the sewer system, preventing sanitary sewer overflows when it rains.
The Lower Cane Run tank is one of three that is in service as part of the overhaul of sanitary sewers that started in 2011. Three additional tanks are under construction.
A stormwater project on Lower Cane Run Creek occupies the area just upstream of the tank.
The Coldstream Park Stream Corridor Restoration and Preservation Supplemental Environmental Project reconstructed the eroded banks of the stream and installed new native plants to improve the natural habitat of the stream.
Through newly constructed wetlands and a bioswale, rainwater is slowed and treated before it reaches the creek. Educational signage explaining the project has been installed along the trail.
In addition to the storage tanks and stormwater projects, as part of the sanitary sewer work, broken pipes are being replaced and bigger pipes are being installed, where needed. (One of the projects now under construction involves the replacement of sanitary sewer pipes on East Main.) Through the Capacity Assurance Program, the city evaluates each proposed development project to make sure there is enough wastewater treatment capacity before the plans are approved.
“This is an enormous sanitary sewer initiative throughout our City. It is a commitment to the environment and to the future,” Gray said. The work is expected to be largely complete by 2026.
The Legacy Trail in Coldstream Park now includes a small rest area for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We saw this project as an opportunity to provide conveniences that the public wanted,” said Charles Martin, acting commissioner of Environmental Quality and Public Works. “We needed to build the tank, but we wanted it to be more than a plain piece of infrastructure due to its prominent location along the Legacy Trail.”
The city partnered with HDR, Element Design and SCAPE Landscape Architecture on the additions.
After meetings with community stakeholders, Water Quality settled in a practical design that includes restrooms, a water bottle filling station, bike racks and seatings, along with trees and landscaping to provide shade.