George Ward Park sits at the upper reaches of the Valley Creek watershed. A small spring noted on old USGS maps as Holly Spring pops out of the ground near Cedars Avenue. The channel meanders through the park to the western edge, where a small channel from the east end of the park joins the flow and slips under I-65 to join the main channel of Valley Creek near 5th Avenue North. The route from the park to the main channel makes its way in highway ditches, under railroad lines, and through underground pipes. As neighborhoods develop, low lying areas are often drained with ditches and pipes to move water quickly to prevent flooding. This practice often removes the natural floodplain area, where floodwaters can rise and recede without property damage. Runoff from industry and transportation enters these compromised channels, carrying the oil and waste directly into the stream. Newer urban stream restoration techniques are used in some areas to restore the floodplain and improve water quality.
Valley Creek flows westward through Birmingham and then northward to join the Locust Fork near the Jefferson County line. A few miles downstream from this junction, the Locust Fork and Mulberry Fork join to form the Black Warrior River. The Black Warrior heads southward and spills into the Tombigbee River. These waters continue southward, entering the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of Mobile Bay. The Black Warrior River Basin is one of several large basins that make up the much larger Mobile River Basin.