- Cullman, Alabama

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January 30, 2013

Phase 1 complete: City finalizes Duck River dam pipeline (with video)

Work continues on secondary water source project

CULLMAN — One phase down, two to go. The City of Cullman Utilities Board has reached a milestone in the decades-long effort to create a secondary water source in Cullman County with the completion of Phase 1 of design and construction of the Duck River Dam.

Phase I encompassed dirt work and design for the proposed dam and lake.

“We are on-budget and our goal is to bid Phase 2 by the end of the year,” Tom Harwell, an engineer with the project’s engineer of record CH2M Hill, said.

The utilities board, with the cooperation of Cullman County and other area water systems, is creating a 640-acre lake with a 32-million-gallon-per-day capacity in the Duck River watershed in northeast Cullman County. The new lake will be used in tandem with the county’s only major water source, Lake Catoma, once complete.

With Phase I of work and geological mapping almost complete, contractor Brasfield & Gorrie will undertake some “test fills” at the site soon to see how those materials would react if used for dam construction. The purpose is to determine whether the process will call for a complete roller-compacted concrete (RCC) dam or a hybrid dam made of RCC materials and Earth-fill materials from the site.

Before Phase II can begin in earnest, the board must also first establish some restricted covenants, as required by the federal dam permit. The covenants prevent the city from building anything within the required dam buffer, and must be in place before equipment can be used in the stream.

Though work on the raw water pipeline isn’t scheduled to begin until Phase 3 — after construction of the dam itself — engineers have finalized the proposed pipeline for the new Duck River reservoir.

Owner’s representative and project engineer Bill St. John has been working to perfect the route for months, and finally has a proposed map to submit for Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) approval. The approximately eight-mile pipeline will connect the reservoir to the city water treatment plant. The majority of the proposed route will run along Highway 278 east, though it will also dip onto some county roads along the way. The pipeline will be comprised of one 30-inch pipe that will carry the raw water from the lake to the plant for treatment.

St. John said the next step is for the city to work with ALDOT for final approval to use the highway right-of-way.

“We wanted to get that moving and proceed with this design,” he said. “Once we get the design finalized we’ll then have to apply for a permit. It’s going well.”


Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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