Calvert City Council members found themselves in a quandary over a leaky dam at its Jan. 13 meeting. During the council's meeting Nov. 12, 2019, engineer Matt Brawley recommended the council abandon the portion of Lucille Lane that runs over the dam, which backs up a lake in Huntington Creek Subdivision. However, an outcry from subdivision residents prompted the council to put the issue on hold pending an in-depth engineering study.
During las week's meeting the council reviewed HDR Engineering's report showing the study will cost $88,800. The proposed dam assessment would include a hydrologic survey, evaluation of dam failure and breach analysis, operation, maintenance and inspections and an emergency action plan. At the November meeting, Brawley estimated rebuilding the dam would likely cost a half million dollars or more. It was noted the dam wasn't built properly, and water is seeping into it causing the street to break up.
Also, at the November meeting, David Cox, president of the citizens group, questioned why the city wanted close the road. Homeowners say the lake formed by the dam adds ambiance to their homes. "Is there any paperwork that says what your obligations are," Cox asked.
He questioned whether the city can accept streets into its system "and all of a sudden don't take care of the roads. They say the dam has weakened, well one of the reasons is the trash truck drives over it," he said. "It's huge, and (the street) should have been restricted to cars and trucks. It's going to take away from our subdivision to do away with this road."
At the same meeting, Loyd Ford, publisher of The Lake News, recalled the street was an issue when the subdivision's roads were accepted into the city system. "The council almost didn't accept them because one of them was being used as a dam," Ford said.
Now, the question the council faces involves whether there is an alternative between doing nothing and rebuilding the dam. Councilwoman Neeta Hale asked if "there is some way we could shore it up without rebuilding the dam." She also said Huntington Creek residents should be present before the council makes a decision.
Roger Colburn, a civil engineer and manager of the city water and sewer system, sees closing the road as the best option.
"To me, the solution is to take the road off the berm and leave the berm there, leave the lake there, take the road away," he said. "If you are not going to do that, you're going to end up having to rebuild the embankment. The subgrade on the road is inadequate; I think the concern is the subgrade is piping water through it causing a problem. I don't think there is anything that would be in jeopardy below the dam if we were to have a dam break."
Lucille Lane is a school bus route and Colburn said the city's main concern is whether or not the embankment can continue to support a bus and the garbage truck, which also uses the street.
City Attorney Greg Northcutt cautioned the council regarding potential liability.
"From a legal standpoint, we've been alerted that there is an issue," he said. The council needs to "do whatever needs to be done to make sure the risk doesn't come to fruition," Northcutt added.
In other business, the council took no action following a closed session called to discuss pending litigation and a potential land purchase.