Can A Retention Pond Fail In Fort Lauderdale?
A Mobile couple is still picking up the pieces after their home full of memories was literally knocked off its foundation and flooded with mud and water, when a retention pond on MAWSS property collapsed.
Local 15 News first brought you the story two weeks ago after our area saw record rainfall totals. Now we’re finding out what may have caused the catastrophe.
According to an engineer with Volkert Inc., the retention pond was still under construction and not ready to drain all the water brought in by the wettest April on record. We also learned from the Army Corps of Engineers, that Alabama is the only state in the country without a dam safety program.
The victims in the recent retention pond collapse are Thomas and Kathy Finch. Thomas Finch was born and raised in their home on Northview Drive. Their 24-year-old son even died inside one of the bedrooms several years back. So it was a place the couple never wanted to leave.
“I’ve got a lot of memories of this place, a lot of memories. Some good, some bad. But it’s just sentimental stuff,” said Thomas Finch.
Their house and almost everything in it was destroyed on the morning of April 29th, when a retention pond on MAWSS property, which backs up to the Finch’s neighborhood, collapsed during the torrential downpour.
“When I came into the kitchen the water just started rushing in. It came in and started coming up. It was over my ankles so I knew it was getting bad and I was just screaming,” cried Kathy Finch.
Water and mud rushed violently over the Finch’s property, sending their above ground swimming pool half a mile into the woods. The current was so intense that it disassembled Northview Drive, it even sent a huge piece of asphalt into the Finch’s yard.
“I had an angel that my sister had given me when my son passed away and it is gone and it meant a lot to me,” Kathy Finch continued.
“First of all, I want to say that we all feel badly for the Finch family and what they’re going through and we’re providing them living expenses and working toward a final resolution with their attorneys right now,” said Bryan Peacock.
Peacock is the construction engineering and inspection manager of the project with Volkert Inc., the company MAWSS hired to design and manage construction of its Shelton Beach Road Maintenance Center and the adjacent retention pond built to collect runoff water and discharge it at a set rate.
We met with Peacock to find out what went wrong two weeks ago.
“Of course we had a heavy rainfall event. It was the third highest daily rainfall event in 143 years. So that was the cause of the problem but also the pond wasn’t complete. It wasn’t open to drain so it wasn’t functioning as designed,” said Peacock.
Peacock said a 4-inch hole at the bottom of the weird was closed off the day of the storm. And what he calls a necessary slot at the top of the outfall control structure, didn’t exist on April 29th. He believes both factors contributed to the pond’s collapse.
“Why was there no backup plan in place here?” asked Local 15’s Christian Jennings.
“Of course no one could have anticipated this rainfall event. But we didn’t think of a backup plan. The contractor never conveyed to me what he would do in case of this size of rainfall event,” said Peacock.
“As the engineers on the project, is that not your responsibility to have a way for the water to flow out?” asked Jennings. “No. During construction the contractor is responsible for the site and for the water that comes on the site and for the water that leaves the site. The contractor uses his methods to maintain drainage,” answered Peacock.
But the contractor, Ben M. Radcliff Contractor Inc. is still working to determine the cause of the failure. The company sent Local 15 this statement:”
In answer to the questions that you raised, Ben M. Radcliff Contractor, Inc. responds as follows:
“The outflow pipe running from the retention pond was completed and accepted by the owner, and was functioning properly, before the rain event.
We have seen no evidence to suggest that the outflow pipe was plugged at the time of the incident. The work on the pond was proceeding according to schedule. The concrete box to which you refer is called a weir.
The weir was open on top and thereby allowed the pond to drain in such a manner so that the berm would not be over topped. There may have been a temporary Styrofoam plug in one opening in the weir but this would not have prevented the water from flowing out of the pond through the discharge pipe.
We regret that this unfortunate incident occurred and are working with others to assist the Finches. We are working with our subcontractor and the project engineer to determine the cause of the failure.”
Attorney Rick Courtney, who began representing Thomas and Kathy Finch nine months ago, said the entire project was poorly designed.
“They should have had a backup overflow system but more importantly, that storm didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. The news services were telling us it was coming for two days so you would think if you’re the engineer you’d make sure the drainage system from that pond is fully functioning,” said Courtney.
This wasn’t the first time the construction project caused problems for the Finch’s. In October, the couple filed a civil lawsuit against MAWSS seeking compensatory damages due to constant flooding and erosion problems from the site. Seven months later, they lost their home.
“This project right here, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to go, boy, they sure tried to put too much in too small a place here. That’s why their slops are so steep and why their slopes never work and eroded away and flooded these people even before this catastrophe happened,” Courtney said.
Since the storm, engineers say workers have deepened by two feet and the holes in the weir are now open. With the construction expected to last through August, and hurricane season right around the corner, we wanted to know if other homeowners in the area are at risk.
“No. Once everything is completed and operational it should work as designed,” said Peacock, who went on to explain that Volkert’s design includes an 18-inch pipe that runs from the retention pond, underneath Northview Drive, and eventually connects to the city’s drainage system.
The Finch’s attorney said his clients are now staying in a rental home that MAWSS has provided them for three months. But they have no furniture and their clothes and most of their other belongings were destroyed in the flood.
Last week, MAWSS sent Local 15 the following statement regarding the issue:
“MAWSS remains deeply concerned about the Finches and their neighbors on Northview Drive and we share their dismay over the events following the recent storm.
We were on the site before daybreak on the morning of April 29 to view the situation.
Volkert, Inc., was hired by MAWSS to design and manage construction of the Shelton Beach Road Maintenance Center project, which is not yet finished.
Ben M. Radcliff Construction, Inc., was selected through the bid process to construct the project.
Both have been told to immediately take every necessary action to remedy this situation and to give this their most urgent attention.
This work has been undertaken and is ongoing.
It’s our understanding that the contractor has additional engineers and experts on site to assist with work at the retention pond, and that the City will provide information to Volkert for repairs to the road.
Temporary housing for the Finches and storage for their property is being provided.
This is of utmost importance to MAWSS.
Because this matter is in litigation we cannot comment on liability issues.
However, MAWSS considers this situation to be of the highest priority and will continue to press the entities responsible for the project to correct the situation with the pond and the storm water drainage and to satisfactorily complete the project. MAWSS is extremely distressed that these events occurred and we are committed to being a good neighbor to the residents of Northview Drive.”
Water damage Fort Lauderdale is a firm setup to help in cases like those described in this new article. The company provides professional water damage restoration.
Florida Uses Retention Ponds To Help Environment
Suburb are often overlooked when considering storm-water runoff. Many impermeable surfaces such as streets, driveways, walkways, roofing systems, and sidewalks remain in residential class. Retention ponds catch diverted storm-water runoff from these surfaces. They are more effective as long as they have professional Florida retention pond Cleaning
The ponds supply two main services. They maintain the runoff prior to launching it into streams. They launch the water at circulation rates and frequencies much like those that existed under natural conditions. The flood volume held in a retaining pond reduces the effect on downstream storm-water systems.
The 2nd advantage of the retention ponds is that they provide toxin elimination through settling and biological uptake. Turbidity, pH, and total hardness are tested at the retention ponds at Charleston Pointe and Darby Creek, located within the Canine River Watershed. Water samples are collected at the inflow topic and outflow area of each pond. A LaMotte 2020 Turbidimeter tests water samples to identify turbidity. A LaMotte Company water quality test kit tailored for Alabama Water Watch is made use of to chemically check pH and overall hardness. Research results reveal a substantial reduction in turbidity between the inflow water and outflow water of the retention ponds. Retention ponds are ideal partners for property areas within the Canine River Watershed, considering that the contaminant most typically and effectively removed from storm-water is sediments.
Florida retention ponds are useful for offering storm-water reduction and the elimination of toxins from storm-water. Lots of states such as California, Nevada, Idaho, North Carolina, and Florida recognize the potential benefits of retention ponds. For instance, the state of Florida began needing storm-water treatment in new property developments in the 1980’s. New developments are required to minimize pollution connected with storm-water overflow. Countless ponds have been designed and developed to aid fulfill this need
Retention ponds capture the diverted storm-water overflow from gutter systems and streets. These ponds offer 2 primary services. First, they retain the overflow prior to launching it into streams. They release the water at flow rates and frequencies comparable to those that existed under natural conditions. The flood volume held in a retaining pond minimizes the impact on downstream storm-water systems (England 2001). The second advantage of the maintaining ponds is that they supply pollutant elimination through settling and biological uptake (Idaho DEQ 2001). Ponds eliminate 30-80 % of certain contaminants from water before it gets in close-by streams. Common pollutants minimized are sediments, germs, greases, oils, metals, overall suspended solids, garbage, nitrogen, and phosphorous (England 2001). Ponds are among the most effective devices at supplying channel defense and pollutant elimination in urban streams (www.stormwatercenter.net 2001). Essentially, retention ponds offer water quality and quantity control. One element that has to be figured in in the cost of retention pond maintenance in Florida
Two typical categories of keeping ponds are either “wet” or “dry.” Wet ponds, called retention ponds, constantly have a swimming pool of water in them called dead storage. Dry ponds, detention ponds, do not have dead storage and dry out between storms (EPA 2001). Retention ponds are more effective than dry ponds. The permanent pool of water discovered in the wet ponds is more efficient at eliminating particle contaminants. It does this by soaking up energy from inflow of the stormwater as it gets in the pond, preventing scour product from settling to the bottom, and exchanging brand-new incoming stormwater with previously caught water. This offers extra time between storms for pollution to settle (Idaho DEQ 2001). Aquatic greenery is frequently related to wet ponds. Vegetation such as plants and yards are able to establish themselves in the permanent swimming pool of wet ponds therefore offering additional pollutant elimination. The aquatic plants and turfs serve as an extra filter in the pond. They assimilate dissolved pollutants and, by biological uptake, transform toxins into less poisonous products. Microorganisms frequently establish themselves in wet ponds and aid in the breakdown of contaminants (EPA 2001).