Bridge, Phillips, Elam Drainage District News From the desk of Milton Sandy Jr
November 30, 2012
This newsletter is directed to friends and supporters of our efforts to get something done about the repetitive flooding in Corinth and Alcorn County which on May 2, 2010, caused loss of life, public and private property and threatened public health and safety by the massive release of raw sewage into flood waters. If you have news, questions or comments, please fire away.
K-MART LAWSUIT and Detention Ponds It is funny how you can go by something every day for 20 Flood Threat for November years and hardly notice it. Even funnier to me is that with the age of digital cameras and the thousands of pictures I've taken in the last 20 years or so, I have found few of the detention pond I'm referring to across from the Kmart/Kroger
Contact: Milton Sandy Jr 662-286-6087 - Fax 287-4187 - E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Shopping Center. My picture collection of the damaged fence featured in the last newsletter was much more extensive. The exhibit above, page 406, from the Kmart suit shows the detention pond, across the street from the Kmart/Kroger shopping center and on the East Side of Fulton Drive. While the caption above the picture indicates September 20, 2012, I'm pretty sure this aerial picture probably dates to 2007 or so. Don't know whether you have checked Google Earth lately for pictures of Corinth but I was quite pleasantly surprised to find the latest imagery is high resolution and sharp as a tack. The
9/18/2012 Google Earth view of Kmart/Kroger and detention pond
picture above shows the Detention Pond just a few weeks ago on 9/18/2012. If I had known it was going to be this sharp and when, I would have mowed the grass with a message. The detention pond by my calculations is approximately 80,700 sf and at an estimated average depth of 8' would hold approximately 645,600 cubic feet of water or 4,829,088 Gallons. The pond is drained by a 15” corrugated pipe which runs approximately 92' to the west bank of Elam Canal. I estimated the area that would drain into the detention pond from all the paved areas and roof areas on the Kroger/Kmart shopping center, the Sam Goody building and parking lot, and the pond itself, and estimated 608,744 sf. Doing rainfall calculations on this surface area, it would take almost 13” of rain to fill this pond to overflowing without taking any consideration of how fast it drains. The input is fairly simple to compute, the output I will have to depend on my engineering friends to calculate later. The point, however, is that if this pond were empty, as it should be, before a significant rainfall event, it should have done a relatively good job of compensating for the fill in the flood way from the construction of the Kmart/Kroger shopping center. However, the question is whether this pond was empty at the time of any of our recent floods. That I will have to tell you I have no real way to tell for sure. My suspicion based on my recent experience is that it was not, but I would be unable to prove it one way or the other. While doing all these rainfall and volume calculations for the detention pond, it occurred to me that at least one third or more of the water falling on the roof of the Kmart/Kroger shopping center probably didn't arrive in this detention pond directly. I believe Kmart's expert witness report, EFI Global, Document #77-1, page 398, filed 10/17/2012, does a great job of describing much of the drainage from the building's roofs: “Roof drainage for the Kmart and Kroger stores is provided by gutters and downspouts on the rear of the store buildings. The downspouts discharge onto splash blocks at grade with the asphalt pavements behind the stores. Runoff from pavement behind the stores drains away from the stores across the paving to the rear curb. The runoff is collected and discharged by several flumes through the curb into an existing ditch draining left to right parallel to the curb behind the buildings. Flow in the ditch is collected, along with runoff from the large grassed area behind the site, into a headwall for a 60 inch outfall storm drain. The 60 inch headwall is located approximately between the Kroger and the Kmart stores, behind the rear curb of the parking lot behind the stores. The 60 inch outfall pipe runs from the headwall back towards the building to a drop inlet in the pavement behind the Kroger store. From this inlet, the pipe runs to the right behind the Kroger store through a series of drop inlets and then across South Fulton Drive.”
It continues â€œThe location of the outfall headwall for the 60 inch pipe once it crosses South Fulton Drive could not be determined. Based on the location of the existing buildings to the right of South Fulton Drive and an inspection of Elam Creek in the area, it is believed the pipe turns and runs parallel to South Fulton Drive toward Highway 72 West and eventually discharges into the existing detention facility noted above.â€? Contrary to this part of the expert opinion, I do not believe it is routed directly to the detention pond but instead was connected to a new culvert at the time of the shopping center construction which was buried below an existing drainage ditch running east to Elam on the south side of Allen Street. I took a picture of it as it was being laid by Buddy Ayers Construction back in 1992. The picture is at the corner across from the county jail right behind the street sign at Allen St. and Fulton Drive. The culvert outlet is on the South side of the Allen Street bridge at Elam Creek shown in the picture below.
5/10/1992 Culvert down South side Allen St
10/10/12 Downspouts behind Kmart/Kroger
10/10/2012 Allen Street culvert at Elam Creek
2/13/2002 Allen St culvert backing up
This culvert has to handle all the water from the back of the Kroger/Kmart shopping center. I do not know if it is interconnected to drains at the front of the building or along Fulton Drive continuing to the detention pond. When enough rain falls, Elam rises and blocks, to a large extent, the flow coming from the culvert beside Allen St. When this culvert is blocked, the water would then have to continue from the back of Kmart/Kroger overland to the detention pond and all points in between including the roadway and fences in front of the old compress building. This would seem to me potentially a design flaw if this drainage culvert is undersized and, if so, would certainly lead to a “rushing, forceful water flow” moving south from behind Kmart/Kroger. Another very strong possibility is that with the entrance of this culvert being unguarded, there is a high probability that debris over the past 20 years has accumulated and is internally blocking or severely reducing the flow of storm water. This would be a good project for the Corinth Sewer Department video inspection team. The history of the detention pond is somewhat fuzzy to me. I'm sure Mr. Joe Hardage who developed the property could be more exact. My understanding was that the detention pond was built as remediation for the “wetlands” which were destroyed by the construction of the shopping center. This was strictly an environmental action, as far as I know it had nothing to do with the floodway or floodplain issues. At the time of the shopping 7/19/1992 detention pond being built by dragline center construction, Alderman E.S. Bishop, Sr. had filled the job of mayor starting in 1989 after the resignation of Mayor Jack Holt. Mayor Bishop was re-elected in 1990 to a 4 year term and was mayor until 1994. Mayor Bishop was and may still be the only black mayor ever elected in a white majority city in Mississippi. According to a conversation with Gerald Horner, who was at that time assistant fire chief, he received a call from Mayor Bishop, before construction of the shopping center began, asking him to accompany Ralph Hurley, then building inspector, to meet with someone from a state environmental agency. My suspicion is that this was someone with the newly formed Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Environmental regulation including wetlands was relatively new stuff at that time. MDEQ was formed in 1989 from the former Department of Natural Resources (DNR). DNR had been formed in 1978 from the consolidation of five state agencies dealing with various environmental concerns. The motivation was the passage by Congress of Public Law 92500, the Clean Water Act or CWA in 1972, which is the major federal law dealing with pollution and from which most modern wetlands regulation derives. The law had major amendments in 1977 and Page 5/11
1987. Jurisdictional disputes between various Federal Agencies including the EPA, USACE, NRCS and Fish and Wildlife Services took quite a while to be sorted out and settled. Legal challenges, particularly related to wetlands, have also taken years to sort out legally with a major decision being rendered as late as Rapanos v. United States by the Supreme Court in 2006 rejecting a USACE position that their authority over water was virtually limitless. Gerald's recollection of the meeting was that the regulatory personnel determined that wetlands were being destroyed and something had to be done to remediate the damage. It is my understanding that the shopping center developer then purchased the property across the street and designed the out parcel where the Sam Goody store is located and excavated the rest into a detention pond. The punchline to this story is that after construction began, a large, very old City of Corinth water line was discovered leaking in the area of the “wetlands” behind the back of the shopping center. I believe it was relocated and replaced and the wetlands disappeared.
5/10/1992 Source of “wetlands” behind Kmart/Kroger
For probably the first 10 years after it was built, the detention pond, as far as we knew, worked perfectly. When it rained significantly it would fill up and then go down over a period of a few days. After the floods of 2001 and 2002, the fence surrounding the pond was damaged, major debris was deposited in the pond and the outlet became stopped up. The outlet is a 15” corrugated pipe which runs approximately 92' to the west bank of Elam Canal where the water drains. The fence was repaired but was damaged again in 2004 and never fully repaired after the outlet was again cleaned out. And that's when the real trouble began. Our warehouse manager, Charles Stafford, was the first to alert me that the pond was not going down as it always seemed to in the past. He called the management firm in Atlanta for the Kmart/Kroger property and reported to them that the pond was not draining. On several occasions the property owners contracted with Buddy Ayers Construction to clean out the obstructions which Buddy did with a backhoe or excavator. Buddy mentioned to me that beavers had gotten into the pond. We found a fairly large beaver lodge had been built and is still there today behind the Sam Goody store extending into the water and using the chain link fence as supports for branches pushed thru and interlaced. Near the end of the year Page 6/11
2008, we located the path the beavers were taking from Elam Creek across our property to the pond. We engaged a trapper who caught 5 beavers. We mistakenly thought that would solve the problem. After the flood of May 2, 2010, we again noticed the pond wasn't draining properly. We contacted the property manager in Atlanta again and she had it cleaned out in 2011 and shortly thereafter we again noticed it not draining. Early this year, the property manager engaged Herbie Rogers Construction (662-665-5520) to clean it out and try to engineer a way to stop the beavers from blocking the drain. Herbie did some 11/14/2012 Sewer manhole with beaver lodge at left research and crafted a culvert protector based on the Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler design which is well regarded in preventing beavers from blocking drainage. Herbie also did a nice job of sloping access down to the drain so it could be regularly inspected.
5/31/1992 Sewer manhole at time of construction
Unfortunately, Herbie used a rather large mesh that was big enough to allow a beaver to slip through. Herbie mistakenly thought that a beaver would not be able to reach and block the culvert opening because he could not swim with a stick in his mouth through the mesh. Like only a few engineers I've known, I'm here to tell you that beavers are very flexible and are ready to improvise in a heartbeat. The beavers were soon swimming in with large masses of long, flexible vines and floating plant roots that they used to block the culvert using clay mud for a binder. Within weeks, I was in a battle with the beavers to keep the culvert opening clear.
You may have heard the term “busy as a beaver” but you can't fully appreciate that phrase until you have seen them in action. Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman had to attend West Point to learn engineering, tactics, and about “choke points”. Beavers know it all by instinct. The beavers are concentrating instinctively on the solitary drain for the pond in an effort to block it and fill the pond up with water. I have checked the culvert just about
Beaver Claw tool on 12' pole 5/3/2012 Installation of Beaver Pond Leveler
every day since it was last cleaned out and just about every day I've had to remove the beaver's work from the night before. Beavers are nocturnal creatures and vegetarians. The debris I've removed since May has been accumulating in two spoil piles that are rising like the mountain in ET. My carefully crafted tool of choice for excavation is my own beaver claw made from a garden claw duct taped to a paint roller cut off and attached to a 12' extendable painters pole.
I devised a removable grate to block the culvert and have been adding smaller mesh around the outside of the larger cage around the culvert but the beavers have 11/1/2012 Spoil piles on both sides of pond culvert outlet managed to get through on a pretty regular basis. I've experimented with sound, solar lights, ultrasound and am now testing a small solar powered Page 8/11
electric fence charger. So far the beavers have kept me busy keeping the culvert clear and the pond has been at a low level most of the year now. If we can't deter the beavers, we will eventually have to engage another trapper. I will be preparing a list of recommendations for the property manager in the near future after we can get a definite fix on the extent of the problem. The pond is now 20 years old and, in addition to the beaver problem, has silted in from decaying vegetation over the years which reduces its capacity. If the fence around the pond had been repaired and maintained, it probably would have been pretty effective at keeping the beavers out since they are not adept at climbing fences. It would not have stopped debris from blocking it. Beavers instinctively operate from the sound of running water. I can tell they are most active after rainfall events. We have had very low rainfall so far this year so that is probably the only thing that has helped me keep up with them so far. My wife says they are winning. If you once again haven't been bored senseless by this discussion of detention ponds, beavers and culverts, I'll move on next issue to identify other factors in the flooding of May 2, 2010concentrating on the other “stuff” that has been put in the floodway. So far, I hope you are following along as I've tried to identify and explain: 1. Drainage ditches not being maintained 2. Detention pond may have been full, blocked or not functioning properly 3. Drainage from back of Kmart/Kroger may be undersized or inadequate The list will get longer.
KEN BURNS and PROHIBITION Probably no more timely television series for voters in the city of Corinth than Prohibition: A film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick was aired last month on PBS. Ken Burns is a master filmmaker whose ability to bring archival, historical documents to life is unsurpassed. I missed it when it aired in October but had the opportunity to view it this past Thanksgiving weekend. If you have an internet connection, you can watch it online at: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/watch-video/#id=2082675582 Even if you don't drink, you'll probably have the urge to pour yourself something while you watch this. Seeing endless bottles and barrels being broken up has that effect. As with most Ken Burns projects, I found this one extremely informative and educational. My own knowledge of prohibition was limited to previous 1950's television with Elliot Ness and his Untouchables and various gangster accounts of Alphonse “Scarface” Capone. I also grew up in Corinth during a time of extreme hypocrisy and a contempt for law which accompanied prohibition in Mississippi. The 18th amendment was repealed in Mississippi, the last state in the Union to do so, in 1966. My father was always a great admirer of Winston Churchill. During a visit to New York during prohibition, Winston Churchill was injured after being hit by a taxi when he forgot to look Page 9/11
right instead of left as he was accustomed in England. Churchill received a doctor's prescription for alcohol to aid in his recovery. Ken Burns had a couple of wonderful quotes including one from Churchill who later referred to prohibition as “...an affront to the whole history of mankind...”. Another GREAT QUOTE: “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” “Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky: It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.”
Mark Twain The major message of the series seemed to me that unintended consequences often flow from well-meaning actions. It was a surprise to me to learn that the origin of our present federal income tax can be traced to prohibition and the necessity to replace the revenues lost from taxing alcoholdidn't that really let a genie out of the bottle? Another interesting fact was that the Klu Klux Klan was one of the major supporters of prohibition, fine company for those who believe high morals support prohibition. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. The statistics below were gathered some time ago on the subject with the help of an old friend and expert statistician, Pete Walley. You'll notice that your chances of being killed by a DUI or getting a divorce are higher in Dry counties in Mississippi. You'll also note that the average wage is considerably lower in Dry counties than in Wet. You can't predict the future based on past statistics but then, as Ken Burn's film illustrates so well, you can't predict the future based on the best of intentions either. KKK- Defender of the 18th Amendment
My interpretation of the message that prohibition carried then and still carries today in Corinth, Mississippi, is hypocrisy and intolerance. That's not the message we need to attract new industry and commerce in this century. We need all the positive and progressive publicity we can obtain to help repair the damage in Corinth and Alcorn County that flooding has done over the last few years. I urge you to remember to vote on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, and urge your friends to vote as well. Indifference and voter apathy has killed many a progressive idea around Corinth.
Summary Statistics Comparing Wet and Dry Counties in Mississippi Mississippi Counties
2009 Labor Force (2)
2009 Average Wage (1)
2009 Unemployment Rate (2)
34 389,469 48 902,486
Estimated Average 2009 Median Education Adult DUIs (3) Age (5) In years (6) As % of WF 34.931614
36.4154 12.53 34.2913 12.80
2008 Divorces (4) As % of WF
(1)Â All dollar estimates are in current dollars (not adjusted for inflation). Regional Economic Information System, Bureau of Economic Analysis (2) Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics (3) Source: MS Highway Safety Patrol (4) Source: MS State Dept of Health (5) MEDIAN AGE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION Data Set: 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates Survey: American Community Survey (6) Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005-2009 American Community Survey
5/31/1992 Site of future Sam Goody store and detention pond viewed from Mitchell St
7/31/2004 Sam Goody store and detention pond viewed from Fulton Drive Page 11/11