Recently a lot of attention has been called to dirt flowing into Lady Ann Lake off Zierdt Road. The site is near the entrance to the Edgewater community and less than two miles from Town Madison.
Residents have raised questions if the long-going construction is contributing to the heavy runoff muddying the small and beloved neighborhood lake.
The source of the problem, according to the city of Huntsville, is a decades-old drainage system.
Joey Ceci, president of the Breland Cos. – the developers of Town Madison and several neighborhoods in the area, said Breland has been questioned about where the dirt is coming from and if any is from Town Madison.
“Dirt is extremely valuable in our business and we need every bit of dirt we have within the development,” Ceci said. “You see trucks going back and forth moving dirt from one site to the other because there is always another spot on the project where more dirt will be needed.
“It was suggested that if dirt does run off into the big drainage ditch that runs underneath Zierdt Road, it would travel into the surrounding wetlands and come back out down around Redstone Arsenal Gate 7,” he said. “But we have environmental consultants who have doubled back to ensure we have more than adequate silt fencing needed to contain any runoff, and that would be a long way for dirt to travel.
“The good news is the Zierdt Road widening project is coming to a close, but the bad news is there is a lot of dirt washing into Lady Ann Lake.”
The dirt is coming from the Zierdt Road construction at the entrance to the Edgewater community. The Zierdt Road expansion is a state-funded project, managed by the City of Huntsville. Wiregrass Construction Co. is contracted by the City for the work.
According to Kathy Martin, City of Huntsville Director of Engineering, Wiregrass holds an Alabama Department of Environmental Management permit for storm water discharge for the work, and they are responsible for performing the work required to meet ADEM regulations.
The problem she said, is the result of a drainage system that has been in place for decades and predates the development in the area.
“Storm water runoff comes from a large drainage area, into the project site, which then discharges into Lady Ann Lake by three equalization pipes under the existing Zierdt Road,” said Martin. “These pipes function as equalization structures to balance the water elevation on each side of the roadway, therefore they are constantly carrying water.
“Wiregrass is currently working in saturated soil conditions at Lady Ann Lake, which causes disturbance to existing silt and sediment as part of the work activity.”
Martin also said the pipes are a cause of water flowing over Zierdt Road from heavy rains.
“Flooding of the roadway frequently occurred due to the condition of the existing equalization pipes,” she said. “When traffic shifted to the new northbound lanes, Wiregrass began removing and replacing these pipes, as well as constructing new drainage structures to help prevent flooding, and improve safety in the future.”
Martin said since the problem has been identified, gravel bedding and backfill is being used to install the new drainage system to minimize any further silt runoff from the work activity.
According to a spokesperson with Wiregrass Construction, the problem was an unexpected one caused by pipes in serious disrepair. Fixing the pipes and solving the problem was not in Wiregrass’ original contract with the city.
“That work has since been added to the contract to equalize the flooding, which has been an ongoing problem,” said the spokesperson.
“Wiregrass is currently removing and installing new equalization pipes directly in the drainage flowline, which includes work in Lady Ann Lake,” said Martin. “In an effort to remove and replace the old pipes, they have installed pumps to dewater the work area, discharging water back into Lady Ann Lake, in a process that utilizes best management practices.”