Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sewer update, Little Hurricane Creek

Lift station 39 @ Little Hurricane Creek

Today there were no trucks around the lift station and the area has been cleaned well. After speaking with Tuscaloosa Sewer department I have learned that the sample results show below normal bacterial count in Little Hurricane Creek in all but one place which is right at the overflow site. That is to be expected.

The site has been cleaned with disinfectant and I saw no solid waste on the ground. Thanks to Tuscaloosa Sewer Dep for the cleanup efforts and notifying us of the sample results.

One thing that makes me feel better is the presence of SCADA monitoring. It sends a message instantly to the main department letting them know quickly when an overflow occurs. If I am correct in saying that it is SCADA equipped then the response time would be greatly shortened compared to the huge overflow in Northport a few weeks back. The Friends of Hurricane Creek thank them.

While there's still room to grow, Tuscaloosa is far better at reporting than in years past.  

The overflow site is about 26 miles from the PARA park on 216. Factor in the recent afternoon showers to help break it down and I am a lot less concerned today than yesterday. I can not say without doubt that all is clear but if it means anything, I will probably go swimming this afternoon after work.

PS> I just got a message from Tuscaloosa saying the situation has been permanently repaired. Again thanks for communicating.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Outdoor Action by UofA Outdoor action!

Every year we get a load of volunteers from the University of Alabama, Outdoor Action group. This year was no less impressive than years past. Between 90 and 100 students and staff showed up ready to work again this year.
University of Alabama, 2016 Outdoor Action group

There were enough students to split up into 3 groups to cover more ground.
Alabama Power Co Pavilion at Hurricane Creek Park

Group 1 concentrated on the new PARA park on Hurricane Creek. 

Alabama Power Co. was kind enough to donate $35,000 to the park for a new pavilion. With budget issues and new parks added to the PARA list, money was a bit tight to finish the landscaping. 

For some time now it has stood looking pretty rough. Weeds grew where grass should have been and erosion was beginning to take a toll on the slopes.

The first matter of business was to get the soil ready for grass using rakes and sling blades. By the time the students were ready to work the Tuscaloosa PARA staff showed up with a pallet of sod, hay bales, seed, and fertilizer.

Part of he crew set about raking and grooming while others set up a relay line to pass sod to it's new home. They worked like a well oiled machine.

So well in fact that Para staff decided to bring out more hay, seed, fertilizer and helped set up the erosion control so we will not have to worry about this section any more.


 I can't say enough good things about PARA and the way they turned this into such a huge success. 

By the end of the day the pavilion area looked as well groomed as some KOA campgrounds! The students that worked on this project came back proud of the effort and will be able to bring their children here one day to see the nice picnic pavilion they helped create. 
APCO Pavilion at Hurricane Creek Park seen from Hwy 216 bridge
The second group started at Largin Shoals above the Holt Peterson Rd. and walked downstream to Watson's Bend removing scrap metal left over from the tornado of 2011 and other debris washed in including several tires.

Many stayed in the campground at Watson's Bend to clear paths to the water and give the main activity grounds a facelift. Since this part of the creek was directly impacted by the tornado it was interesting to hear the students talking about how well the forest was recovering.

They cut and groomed the access points to the swimming areas as well as picked up litter. When it rained a bit they worked even harder. One student told me "At least it's warm rain"  

Since the tornado of April 27, 2011 we have seen a tremendous recovery of the forest around the campground but along with that regeneration comes invasive species such as privet. Without these volunteers it would be impossible for me to keep it under control alone. 

During a lunch break I took time to answer questions and tell them about some of the threats to the watershed and community. Many seemed genuinely concerned and disappointed to learn that this site where we had such fun was going to be destroyed by Alabama Power Co. for a power line Right of Way. The very benefactor who donated the shed at the PARA park. 

It's important for these new members of our community to understand that not all progress is good progress. They completely understood the irony of a forest that survived the most powerful tornado in our recent history would not survive Alabama Power Co. 

The third group started out at Watson's Bend and walked almost to the Black Warrior River also removing hundreds of pounds of tires and other debris. 

They were met at the take out by Dr. Doug Woodward who was more than happy to use his super cool 4 wheel drive to pull the bulk of the haul out for them.

After loading the days catch on my trailer we headed back to Watson's Bend for some well deserved R&R!

Watson's Bend Campground
The swimming hole

Outdoor Action 2016, Thank you one and all!

SEWER OVERFLOW on Little Hurricane Creek

Official release from Tuscaloosa medial dep. (Writers note... This is the second overflow at this exact same site in a week.) I'd like to thank the city of Tuscaloosa for adding us to the notification system so we can advise our membership of potential health issues stemming from sewer overflows.

"A lift station pump failure near Little Hurricane Creek was detected and corrected.
Out of an abundance of caution, the City of Tuscaloosa advises that people should not enter nor use the water in Little Hurricane Creek east of the intersection of State Highway 11 and Daimler Benz Boulevard to Little Hurricane Creek at Highway 11 until further notice. This is the same area already under notice.
There is no immediate danger. The water is being testing, and we are monitoring conditions.
Media contact: Deidre Stalnaker,, 205-534-0811 (cell)
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At about 2. PM this afternoon, Aug. 08, 2016 the Tuscaloosa Sewer Lift station located at the Mercedes plant looked like it was still out of commission in spite of the official statement by the city that "A lift station pump failure near Little Hurricane Creek was detected and corrected." There were still several vacuum trucks on site used to suction raw sewage from the wet well when pumps are out.

There was heavy rain with storm-water runoff leaving the pump station and flowing directly into Little Hurricane Creek. Just outside the fence I saw a public health hazard sign in the path of the storm water seen flowing to the creek.

Just down grade from the station there was another set of signs set right on the creek bank. The creek had a lot more flow in it than the last overflow here so I feel it may have a better chance of hitting Hurricane Creek by Sat. or Sun. The city hasn't given any figures on the amount and duration of the overflow but we hope to hear from them soon on that.

There was a disturbed area right on the creek bank. I'm not sure what this was caused by but it created a soft area where I would expect to see accumulation of bacteria. I neither saw or smelled any form of disinfectant, just 2 signs facing away from the road.

This site is approximately 22 miles North, by water from the PARA Hurricane Creek Park and 26 miles from the Watson's Bend bridge on Holt Peterson Rd. Without the actual numbers of gallons spilled and the content I can not say the creek is safe or not at this point. There was a heavy downpour at the time I was there. That will help push any contamination farther south faster than normal. By Sat. or Sunday we should be seeing any problems if they occur. Friends of Hurricane Creek will be making arrangements to have sampling done ASAP and determine if there is actually any threat to health this far down stream.
Stay safe this weekend folks. Wait until the all clear before entering the water.
We will keep you posted as we find out more. For the time being, out of an abundance of caution, I would not advise swimming in the creek this weekend just for safety sake.