Taking Action, Getting Results: Huntsville Drainage Frustrations

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In early 2009 the City of Huntsville Engineering Division became aware of a flooding problem in the Chase Shadow subdivision along a drainage easement due to siltation in the ditch.

The siltation in the ditch was so severe that it was  blocking the pipes draining from the street. The ditch was also holding water causing mosquito and insect issues for the residents.

In the fall of 2009 the city public works division cleaned and graded the drainage ditch to open up the pipes and allow the ditch to drain. The ditch work, though it may have solved the flooding problem, created an eyesore to the homeowners and also a maintenance and safety problem.

After the city completed the maintenance work in 2009, they received several requests for the city to consider piping the drainage ditch behind the affected homes. The engineering division performed a survey of the ditch in order to prepare a set of construction drawings for the proposed project they deemed necessary to be completed sometime in the future.

Shadowbrook Road resident Gloria Garrard contacted WHNT News 19 saying she's been dealing with issues due to the flooding for eleven years. Monday, when she noticed crews working in her neighbor's yard she says she was infuriated the work would stop there, leaving her in high water.

"Eleven years later, here I sit," said Garrard, "my neighbors have equipment in their backyard, they're getting the pipe, they're getting the drainage fixed and they tell me it's not in the budget."

Gloria says she was told by city engineers there simply wasn't enough money in the budget to pipe and pave the entire length of the drainage ditch and that she should continue to call to remind engineer to include the project in future city planning.

"They suggested it's my job to call and remind them to include it in next year's budget, then next year's budget," huffed Garrard, "that's not my job, that's his job."

After WHNT News 19 contacted the city engineering department about Garrard's complaints we received a statement via email form city drainage and flood plain manager Marty Calvert saying, "In January 2012, the city engineering division with the cooperation of the public works division decided that we would start the work on the upstream side of the project behind the subject addresses. The decision was based on the fact that we really need to do something on the project due to the severity of the problem and with the availability and assistance of public works construction crews we could save a lot of money if we did not have to contract the work," Calvert stated.

"The plan at the time we started the work was to perform the work behind three of the lots and save the rest of the project for next year."

But Garrard tells us she was promised results after Calvert came out to see her problem first hand Monday. She says she was instructed to start moving plants in her yard as soon as possible to prepare for her lot to be graded and leveled.

"After visiting the site," Calvert said in an emailto WHNT News 19, "I am recommending that we extend the project several properties down the ditch. This decision is based on the fact that it will be very difficult to access the site in the future. This unanticipated work can be done because public works has agreed to assist the engineering division with other committed projects that will save the city money and allow us to stretch the engineering drainage funds.  The estimated costs of the Shadowbrook drainage project under contract would have been around $75,000. With the assistance of public works I am estimating that the project will cost around $25,000," Calvert said.