Volkert – Tiawasee Creek Stabilization

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Volkert, Inc. partnered with Streamline Environmental, the City of Daphne, almost two dozen homeowners, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, and numerous environmental agencies to restore a 700-foot section of Tiawasee Creek in the Lake Forest subdivision of Daphne. Volkert provided engineering design, environmental permitting, and construction oversite of the two-phase project, which also included stabilizing 300 feet of an adjacent drainage ditch and coordinating a sewer infrastructure update. 

A degraded section of Tiawasee Creek in the Lake Forest subdivision of Daphne was dumping an estimated 1,000 tons of sediment per year into downstream bodies of water, impacting water quality in D’Olive Bay and Mobile Bay. The problem was compounded when excess water flow during subtropical storm Barry caused an existing drainage ditch to fail. Erosion exposed sections of aging terra-cotta sewer lines running along Tiawasee Creek, which posed further risk of sewage spills.  

Tackling this problem involved coordinating engineering and construction efforts with property owners living alongside the creek, as construction would require bringing heavy equipment into their backyards. 

“Mobile Bay National Estuary Program was a vital partner,” said Andrew James, project manager with Volkert. “In addition to review of the project plans, they took an active role in the community outreach effort, presenting at community meetings, and assisting with easement negotiation.”

Community input led to some creative adjustments, from incorporating more flowering plant species to fostering the sound of falling water along key sections of the creek. 

“Our partners were all very receptive to working with and adapting practices to meet homeowner expectations,” said James. And property owners appear to be pleased. “We’ve received nothing but compliments.”  

The project also required coordination between several agencies. For example, Streamline Environmental staged construction to allow Daphne Utilities to replace the terra-cotta sewer piping in concert with the restoration work. 

“Amazing partnerships made working on this [project] a breeze,” said James. “It was amazing to have so many people willing to pull the cart in one direction.”

While the project is still in the two-year monitoring stage, visual assessments note a tremendous reduction in turbidity. With the natural stream gradient restored and the channel stabilized, the project is expected to substantially reduce sediment entering Mobile Bay each year. Adjacent wetlands, previously disconnected from the creek due to incised banks, have been reconnected to the stream channel and their hydrology restored, improving habitat as well as stormwater management. Sewer lines have been stabilized and aligned with riffles in the stream to hide and protect piping.

Funding for this project was provided by NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, ADEM 319, Daphne Utilities, and the City of Daphne.