ADEM Warning: Madison Officials Looking for Solution

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Madison City Engineer

MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — A warning from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) may have the City of Madison forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars soon. An audit shows Madison isn’t in compliance with regulations under the Clean Water Act.

Unfortunately, city leaders say it’s a lack of communication between the City of Madison, the City of Huntsville, and ADEM.  “We were originally lumped into the Huntsville permit which puts us into a large municipality criteria” said Gary Chynoweth, Director of Engineering for the City of Madison.

Chynoweth told WHNT News 19 that ADEM removed Madison from Huntsville umbrella in 2008. However, he doesn’t have any record of it.

“There is not a problem with pollution, there is a problem with us proving we don’t have pollution,” he said.

Chynoweth said Madison wants to drop to a less strict level for smaller cities, but because it used to be in connection with Huntsville, it’s not an option. “What they’re asking us to mimic is the City of Montgomery,” he said. “Of course their criteria and requirements are much more than ours.”

So, where do they go from here? Madison has to create a program that will prove they are proactive about keeping streams clean and free from pollution. “Things as simple as street sweeping, but for a city like Madison, if you sweep the streets twice a year, that’s $50,000. That’s a mile of road I could resurface so we’re having to juggle finances,” he said.

“We’ve got to negotiate middle ground where we come up with a plan that they approve that shows we are looking after the city, documenting it correctly, and doing it at a cost that we can afford, and that’s going to be the big issue,” said Chynoweth.

Chynoweth said he thinks it will be about $400,000 for the City of Madison to implement a plan. He said that will be based on what comes out of negotiations with ADEM. The City is also looking into possibly hiring a new position with the Engineering Department to keep track of all Clean Water Act records.


  • Phil

    My neighborhood has never seen no new street paving in years, Where is our tax dollars going Madison City Mayor? The only new street pavement I have seen in Madison lately,are in front of those million dollar developments and the developer pays for that. Take Sullivan street, like driving over a wash board for years. Still, no new paving planned there either! Someone is taking my tax money and pocketing it????

    • MadaboutMadison

      You have no idea how corrupt this city is. The entire place is a house of cards and if there is any fairness it will collapse around them.

  • Jim

    I have to disagree with Gary Chynoweth, Director of Engineering for the City of Madison. He stated “There is not a problem with pollution, there is a problem with us proving we don’t have pollution”. What is being complained about stems from an historic lack of enforcement by ADEM’s Decatur office. The powers-that-be are just now being forced to “get tough” with politically connected developers who have managed to delay enforcement of the Federal Clean Water Act. ADEM has historically been lax on enforcement because it was State Senators that were breaking the law and that was ignored. If they were not held to the law standards, how could the developer across the street be? This attitude of non-enforcement continued until no one had to follow the law. North Alabama is now having to catch up with the rest of Alabama.
    Keep in mind that when we have a lot of something, we give it a low value. Alabama has always had a lot of clean fresh-water. It seemed like a never-ending supply, but that is not true. If we pollute water running through one city, others downstream will have to deal with the repercussions of what we did to THEIR WATER when it reaches them. There is a cost to the downstream communities that is becoming clear. Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of those that pollute the water to clean it up? That is what we are finally being recognized. North Alabama must be financially responsible for its pollution of water flowing through the area. It is a fair and just cost for protection of our fresh water supply. How would you react if YOUR WATER came to you already polluted and Madison had the cost of cleaning it up so residents has drinking water? Fairness is what this is, not government forcing something on you.

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