The Bradley County Commission was assured Monday the project is now operating within good standing with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Concerns voiced at last week’s meeting about the environmental impact of the project on Brymer Creek led to the Commission requesting that representatives from the city come to discuss the issue.
Cleveland Director of Development and Engineering Services Jonathan Jobe gave the commissioners insight Monday into what had happened and what steps are being taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“The erosion controls were installed per the [original] plan and everything was going good,” Jobe said.
However, the intensity of rain in the area on Aug. 9 and 10 caused some sediment to move, despite the controls.
“We did have TDEC come out and look at it,” Jobe said. “TDEC gave us to the date of Aug. 22 to respond to make all the needed corrections … to date we have gotten a letter from TDEC saying that things are satisfactory,” Jobe said. “We’ve actually installed way more erosion control now than is actually required.”
The new erosion controls include sediment ponds and check dams. He said rains of high intensity or over several days can cause erosion controls to fail. The environmental aspects of the project are being overseen by a company that monitors erosion and submits weekly reports to the city. The stormwater inspector for the city of Cleveland also makes rounds to the projects, Jobe said.
According to a letter from the TDEC division of water resource and water quality, a follow-up inspection was made on Aug. 28 to ensure all issues had been addressed. The letter listed three elements that had required corrective action. It also states each of these areas has been addressed.
Commissioners representing people who live near Brymer Creek said they had been out to the site.
First District Commissioner Terry Caywood said residents near the creek have concerns that since the erosion controls were unable to slow the water once, the controls may fail again in the future.
“They want to know if there is any kind of schedule for the inspections,” Caywood told Jobe.
Inspections are required after every rain and every 72 hours. Jobe said the erosion inspector is on site whenever work is being done.
First District Commissioner Ed Elkins said erosion controls for the project must be able to control 4.7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period because it is in a designated Tennessee Watershed area.
“You can have a half-inch range that does more damage than a 5-inch rain,” Jobe said.
Seventh District Commissioner Jeff Yarber expressed concern the Commission had assured residents there would not be a major environmental impact from the project.
“The perception is that once the damage has been done, it is irreversible,” Yarber said. “Now I don’t know if that’s correct or not.”
Jobe said that is not entirely accurate; however, some erosion issues can be extremely costly to reverse.
Doug Berry, Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development, pointed out the Commission had made assurances about the nearby industrial park project, which is separate from the connector road project.
Yarber said if there is the possibility of similar issues in the future, people need to know about it now.
“We need to set our expectations at a level that we can meet,” Yarber said.
“That’s what we did in our conversations,” Berry said.
Residents of the McDonald area group the projects together because the connector is being built to make the proposed industrial park accessible to the interstate.