Storm holding pond for tributary completed

May 03, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Nearly 14 months after an earthen dam collapsed and clogged a tributary to Weems Creek with construction debris and silt, the new storm water holding pond is completed.

All that remains to be done this week is to plant the bank at the edge of the Annapolis Mall with wetlands plants to soak up some of the water, said Rodell Phaire, assistant chief engineer in the county's land use office.

Storm water ponds are intended to capture eroding sediments that can clog waterways and suffocate aquatic plants and animals. This pond will hold runoff that flows from the Annapolis Mall and Bestgate Road.

The clay-lined pond ranges in depth from 6 feet to 15.8 feet and is designed to hold up to 135,000 cubic feet of water, said Lisa Ritter, county land use spokeswoman. The pond is drained by a concrete pipe encased in concrete, a design praised by state Department of Natural Resources officials.

The old pond had a corrugated metal pipe that collapsed March 4 along with the 20-foot embankment that held it. The cascading muck filled the creek and resulted in a public uproar that forced repairs to reopen the stream.

County officials originally estimated that the $600,000 dam would be completed during the winter.

"We thought it went fairly quickly considering the weather we had to deal with," Mr. Phaire said yesterday.

In addition to building a pond, the county decided to remove sediment that had was dumped into the creek and repair eroded banks caused by storm water washing off nearby streets and yards.

Steve Carr, corresponding secretary of the Severn River Association, criticized the county for rebuilding the pond at the same time it was repairing the stream.

"It certainly would have been nice if they had been able to get this done earlier so that we didn't have to dump from the bottom of that dam into Cowhide Branch after that branch was restored," Mr. Carr said.

Mr. Carr said he felt the stream repairs were premature, though he said he hopes they work.

Robert Sheesley, co-owner of Brightwater Inc., the consultant who repaired the creek, was paid about $100,000.

Mr. Sheesley said yesterday his company often labored under difficult conditions created by severe winter weather and the volume of water being pumped from the damaged pond into the stream.

The county paid about $275,000 for the original dam, part of a pond designed to control erosion from the county's Bestgate Road construction and the expansion of Annapolis Mall.

Why the dam burst and who should pay for the new one are points of contention.

The county blames faulty workmanship by the contractor who installed the pipe, P & J Contracting Co., and notified the Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Maryland, which holds the bond.

But the contractor, which since filed for bankruptcy, denied it was to blame, and the county is trying to recover the money from the bonding company.

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