By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
The last piece of the permit puzzle has finally fallen into place, and Cullman Utilities Board officials say they can officially begin work on phase II of the Duck River Dam.
The Cullman 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 northeast Cullman County. The dam will be approximately 2,000 feet wide. The project is estimated to cost $68 million. Once complete it will be used in conjunction with the area’s sole water source, Lake Catoma.
Officials were notified earlier this week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had approved the city’s proposed restrictive covenants for land usage in the watershed, which are required as part of the permitting process. The agreement still has to be formally approved by the utilities board.
With the agreement in place, it opens the door for work crews to finally move into additional watershed areas to construct the dam, which had been prohibited before the covenants were in place.
The document outlines acceptable environmental use policies, and prohibits any dredging, mining and burning outside of the plans outlined in the permit. The covenant also disallows any agricultural, industrial or commercial activity.
Utilities board officials are also charged with managing the property to “preserve and improve” existing forests and wildlife resources.
“You have to file the restrictive covenants to show you’re meeting what the permit requests,” project manager Dale Greer said. “Now you can go into phase II and actually build the dam itself.”
A full-scale recreation plan for the new reservoir has also been created, as required by the restrictive covenants. The proposal makes way for boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking, sightseeing and nature observation.
Engineer Bill St. John devised the recreation plan, which includes two boat ramps, walking trails, rest room facilities and picnic areas. St. John said he tried to include every conceivable option, regardless of if the city actually decides to build it, because all potential recreation activities must be approved in advance by the Corps.
Officials have yet to decide which specific aspects they will move forward with once the dam is complete.
Phase I of construction and excavation is essentially finished, and Birmingham-based contractor Brasfield & Gorrie is currently maintaining the site. The next two phases will include dam and spillway construction, as well as the raw water pipeline.
Tom Harwell, with engineer of record CH2M Hill, said his office is finalizing an updated price analysis that should be completed by mid-May.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.