Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

Daily Citizen, The (Dalton, GA), 2014-07-26


July 26 --On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park . But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

"Oh, yes, I have lived here for about five years, and each year I can see it carving away another little bit of people's property," said Traci Allen .

Last year, Dalton City Council members asked Dalton Utilities to take another crack at solving the stormwater problems around McClellan Creek .

Utility officials had presented them with an $800,000 plan to construct a detention pond on the former site of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce on College Drive . But council members said they feared the plan would not give the city enough return for its investment when it came to controlling runoff.

Now, utility officials are back with a more comprehensive plan for controlling runoff and erosion along McClellan Creek , a portion of which runs north parallel to Tibbs Road until it empties into Mill Creek , as well as in the historic McCarty subdivision. The plan is also much more expensive than the plan they presented to the council last year.

"Engineers did an inventory of the infrastructure in those areas," said Dalton Utilities President and CEO Don Cope . "They used all the data on rainfall and stream flow and that sort of thing, and they looked at what is causing the problems and what would happen during a 50-year storm. And finally, they made suggestions about what they think will address the issue."

All told, the engineers -- WK Dickson, a firm from Atlanta -- recommended a $4.7 million plan to control flooding and erosion along McClellan Creek . The plan includes the creation of a $1.4 million detention pond on the old chamber site. That's almost double the cost of the pond the utility proposed last year and Cope says it would produce about double the reduction in runoff.

"If we build that, it will reduce the downstream water level by about 12 inches during a storm," Cope said.

The plan also calls for a second detention pond on College Drive , slightly north of the first one, on what is now a vacant lot, as well as increasing the size of culverts along the McClellan Creek flood plain and other changes.

The plan to control flooding in the McCarty subdivision would cost about $4.5 million and calls for increasing the size of pipes and culverts throughout the area as well as building three small detention ponds, two about 0.4 acre each and one of 0.75 acre.

Cope says the McCarty subdivision and McClellan Creek areas were chosen because they are where the flooding is worst and damage to property greatest. But they are just the first part of a projected three-phase plan to address flooding and stormwater issues in the city. The second phase would encompass the north part of the city, and the third phase would look at the southern part of the city.

Cope says plans for those phases will come later.

Right now, he says, city and utility officials need to agree on a way to fund the first phase. The City Council gave responsibility for stormwater control to the utility five years ago, but the utility doesn't have any source of funding for stormwater management. Cope says the utility is spending about $300,000 a year to manage ongoing stormwater control, such as cleaning culverts and fixing clogged drains. But he says it will need some additional source of funding for major infrastructure projects.

Denise Wood , the City Council's liaison to the utility, saw a presentation on the utility's plans at a recent meeting of the Dalton Utilities board. She said that she and other council members will need to read the full plan before making any commitments.

"I know that this is the first phase. But maybe we can break this first phase into even smaller phases. We do that in the private sector," said Wood, who works for Mohawk Industries . "What we'd like to see is what parts of this plan give us the most bang for our buck, what gives us the biggest reduction for each dollar spent, and see if we can start there and move on to the rest of it over time."

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