Videotape shows muddy pollutants in Brymer Creek
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jul 11, 2013 | 1038 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Muddy water from Spring Branch flows into the relatively clear Brymer Creek after a heavy downpour. The image is taken from a video Steve Campbell shot on July 2.  Contributed photo
Muddy water from Spring Branch flows into the relatively clear Brymer Creek after a heavy downpour. The image is taken from a video Steve Campbell shot on July 2. Contributed photo
A video posted on YouTube shows muddy water from Spring Branch flowing into the relatively clear Brymer Creek.

Bradley County resident Steve Campbell shot the video at about noon on July 2.

“It looks like the city of Cleveland is flushing their progress down Brymer Creek again,” he said. “I wish the city would do a better job and I wish they would stop flushing their waste down our creek.”

Jonathan Jobe, director of the Development and Engineering Services Department, said Monday that the city is not completely innocent, but neither is it entirely to blame.

Construction of LIC South, the connector road between APD 40 and the future site of Spring Branch Industrial Park, is about 90 percent stabilized. Grass is growing, the road is paved and the shoulders and drainage are installed, with the exception of about 200 feet which needs paving, according to Jobe.

“The part near Spring Branch is already stable and TDEC has signed off on it,” he said.

Jobe said the city received an email from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation stating some of the check dams were installed incorrectly. The erosion control devices were installed in the latter part of May or early June.

“The contractor removed the check dams and then it rained. It probably contributed a little bit into the flow of the stream, but there is a big area of grass and stabilization that ditch flows into before it gets to Spring Branch,” Jobe said.

He said that area was running fairly clear on Friday, but at one point it was probably running muddy.

“If those check dams were back in, I think we’d be in great shape, but we noticed the majority of what is hurting Spring Branch is from a pipe that runs under the interstate,” he said. “That pipe flows through our site and flows into Spring Branch. That pipe is running really muddy. We have no idea where that is coming from.”

Campbell said he has identified the other potential source, a 44-acre private property bordering the Interstate 75 right of way. Mud pours directly into the drainage ditch that feeds a 225-foot culvert that goes under I-75 and then a 125-foot culvert under Harriman Road.

“Although the flow from that property is readily visible, a six-foot chain link fence prevented me from accessing the site to find the telltale scoriations that are so apparent on Harriman Road,” Campbell wrote in an email to the city. “I can't say if they are the sole source or if some of the flow is just crossing their property.”

That, he stated, would have to be left to someone who can obtain legal access.

He wrote that another significant source is farming on Roark Lane, and sloppy logging along Bullfrog Creek is another contributor.

Residents in the area around McDonald have expressed concern about protecting the near-pristine waters of Brymer Creek since 2009, when the city expanded its urban growth boundary south of APD 40.

According to TDEC, the section of Brymer Creek from the confluence with Candies Creek to headwaters is considered exceptional waters. In general, exceptional waters have good water quality, important ecological values, valuable recreational uses and outstanding scenery.

Degradation cannot be authorized unless there is no reasonable alternative to the proposed activity that would render it nondegrading, or if the activity is in the economic or social interest of the public.

Campbell wrote that, “Brymer Creek is one of only 18 designated ‘Exceptional Waters’ left in the State of Tennessee, or at least it was before the city of Cleveland got its mitts on some of its headwaters.

“In the late 1990s, Brymer Creek and 17 other waters in Tennessee were designated ‘Exceptional Waters’ over 350 other candidate waters in our state. Today the only exceptional thing about Brymer Creek is the amount of crud flushed through it by the city of Cleveland.”