Per the request of Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford, city of Cleveland Stormwater Program Manager Jonathan Jobe addressed the commission during Monday afternoon’s work session over concerns of stormwater runoff from road and industrial development projects near Spring Branch causing muddy water to flow into Brymer Creek in the McDonald community.
Jobe updated commissioners on the progress of the Local Interstate Connector (LIC) South Project. He said, “S.S.R. is the C.E.I. firm doing the monitoring of the job and they are on site every day that Steve Williams Construction is there and they are submitting to us weekly erosion control reports. We’ve had 11.5 inches of rain total on this project with 6.5 inches of rain during August, with most of those on August 9 and 10. The erosion controls were installed per the plan and everything was going good. Those two dates hit us back to back and it overtopped the erosion controls. We did have TDEC come out and look at it, but we did have overflow into Spring Creek. TDEC gave us the date of August 22 to respond and to make all of the needed corrections. We submitted all of our reports to TDEC and Steve Williams made all the corrections. As of today, we got a letter from TDEC saying everything is satisfactory again. We’ve actually installed way more soil erosion controls now than planned. We’ve added more sediment ponds and check bands to slow water down and filter it as it goes through. We are now phasing the project into smaller sections. Actions have been taken to correct the problem.”
Commissioner Terry Caywood said, “What residents were concerned about and still are concerned about is this reoccurring in future development and disturbed earth. I’m asking, when you find those violations are there any penalties for violations that occur like that?” Mr. Jobe responded, “If they think it’s bad enough they can fine you right away. They didn’t fine us.”
Commissioner Ed Elkins said, “The design criteria for erosion control is that the general construction permit requires design of the sediment and erosion control measures used on a construction site be capable of handling a two-year 24-hour rain event. In the Cleveland area, that represents 3.7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. However, when the project is within the watershed on exceptional Tennessee waters, the sediment and erosion control must be able to handle a five year 24 hour rain event, which in Cleveland would be 4.7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. We all know that project is within an exceptional Tennessee watershed. I don’t know what the program was designed to handle, but we did not approach anywhere near that amount. I think whatever was there prior to the event was absolutely inadequate.”
Mr. Jobe responded, “You can have a half inch rain that does more damage than a five inch rain. High concentration on these is what has hurt us. The 1.2 and 1.4 inches of rain that came that fast overtopped the controls that were in place. I think the rain caught us at a bad time.”
Commissioner Yarber said, “You said the rain caught us off guard. Do we not plan for the rain? The perception is precautions weren’t taken. What I’m hearing from constituents is that once the damage is done, it’s irreversible. Is that correct?” Mr. Jobe responded, “I don’t think that’s totally correct. It can be repaired but it’s very very costly.”
Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “I think there are enough of us that understand the value of a project like this and what it can do. Ultimately in the process, our responsibility is to often times be the voice for the people but at the same time advocate their interests. This is a very emotionally charged issue. The condition of the creek is a real concern. So, we are continuing to carry that concern. This has the opportunity of being something very positive for this community and very positive for even the people who object right now. We don’t want to see it be a stumbling block with things going forward, but it sure does become one when things like this happen. This is a nugget of the process that really does matter.”
Commissioner Connie Wilson asked, “How confident are you with the fall rainy season approaching that we won’t be back here in another month? Do you personally feel controls are in place?”
Mr. Jobe responded, “It’s hard to say. It depends on the rain amount. Adding the extra sediment ponds is a big deal. That should help a tremendous amount. Even if the water gets to that sediment pond, it gives it time to settle out so the water that comes out of it would be clearer. We’ll have a better picture when we get a smaller rain in the near future. We’ll see what the controls are going to do.”
Several consent agenda items and a resolution approving a Corridor Management Agreement for State Route 60 were placed on next week’s voting agenda. The Bradley County Commission will hold that meeting next Monday at noon.