Today’s presentation given by Dan Fredricks, Land and Resource Engineering, was appreciated by the intrepid souls who braved the snowstorm to attend! This is sort of a re-run of the “Practicability Hearing” information I posted previously; but I’ll give the bullet-point rundown of the topics covered:
Cuddy Drain Watershed: 4037 acres, 98.7% of which lies in Allegan County Total length of the Cuddy Drain: 3.2 miles (this doesn’t include the other named drains like Boot Lake and Tawsley/Holbrook that feed into the Cuddy)
Current Petition: The Practicability Hearing was held in Sept; so the next step is the “Neccessity Hearing” on Wednesday Feb 5th, 2014 6 PM at the Yankee Springs Township Hall on Briggs Rd. Public attendance is encouraged!
Drain History: (Deb’s note: There was a nameless creek draining Boot and Round lakes into Gun Lake, on an 1873 map) The Cuddy Drain was established in 1915; and realigned in 1951, with the channel E of Patterson being dredged 4′ deep and 80′ wide. In 1985, this eastern section was again fully dredged to a depth of 4′. In 1991, a Sediment-trapping Basin was dredged between 1st St and Patterson; and it was cleaned periodlically until the county ran out of places to put the dredged sand, approximately in 2008.
Existing Conditions: Most of the sediment, erosion, and woody debris are coming from the stretch between Timber Creek Rd and 1st St; this will be the area pinpointed for remediation. Most of the culverts along the Cuddy are undersized; and rusting out and falling apart. Two culvert sections at 1st St were accidentally ripped out during debris-clearing operations (although the sections that can be seen are clearly rusted-through). The drain was originally dredged at a steep angle; and through the decades, the water has stair-stepped its way downhill as Nature tries to seek equilibrium. This has left the downstream side of culverts “perched” (washed-out) which also creates erosion. Some of these perched areas will need to be addressed. Debris control measures currently used are leading to flooding when they get plugged.
Water Quality: Dan calculated the sediment load delivered to the channel east of Patterson, at 400 cubic yards per year. If the Sediment Basin were re-opened, it can hold approx 450 cu. yds/yr. E-coli has been an ongoing problem for decades – and will probably require further studying, and investigation of several potential illicit connections from residences and outbuildings.
Recommendations: Replace the Patterson Bridge. Manage sediment and woody debris from Timber Creek Rd to Patterson. Re-establish the Sediment Trap and add debris barriers. Replace culverts at 1st St and Timber Creek (including the culverts for the Boot Lake Drain where it crosses under Timber Creek). Investigate illicit connections (pipes) in upper Cuddy. Dredge the full length of the channel.
Preliminary Costs: Naturally, all the prices that will be mentioned are “educated guesses” at this point. The bidding process for actual construction has not started. Much depends on the cooperation of Cuddy landowners and a place to put dredged sand. The total cost of doing all the proposed projects could run from $800,000 to $1.25 million
Apportionment: “Who pays for what” is still being formatted, based on who benefits the most; (or what point needs the most remediation). Right now, the Patterson Bridge costs are theoretically being divided equally between the Barry(25%) and Allegan (25%) Road Commisssions, and the Barry (25%) and Allegan (25%) residents within the Cuddy Drain Assessment District. Dredging the Channel would be 100% the responsibility of the Barry residents. But since Patterson is used by a LOT more people than just the Cuddy residents – Mark Englerth would like to pursue supplemental funding possibilities, also?
Schedule: In a best-case scenario; permits, studies and bids would be accepted during the Spring and Summer of 2014; and actual construction on the Patterson Bridge would begin after Labor Day; with final dredging occurring in late fall
Add-remove Lands: The Cuddy Drainage Assessment area was originally defined in the 1950’s, using property lines as boundaries. Since then, technology has enabled engineers to draw the actual drainage boundaries of the watershed; so some properties will be removed from the assessment district, and others will be added. Dan has plotted on a map, which properties will be affected and they will be notified by the Drainage Board.
Here is a rough breakdown of the costs for each project; and who will be tentatively paying for them:
Gardner Drain improvements $50,000 (100% Allegan cost)
Cuddy Drain improvements west of Patterson $125,000 (100% Allegan)
Dredging the Cuddy to 400′ east of Patterson $175,000 (apportionment TBD)
Dredging the entire navigable Cuddy Channel $250,000 (100% Barry) (This does NOT include the channel for Island Drive, which is not a part of the Cuddy System, although it was recommended that those residents arrange for dredging within the same time frame by the same service provider if they wish)
Sediment Basin (Sand & Debris Trap) $70,000 (Allegan cost? or 50/50 split?)
1st St culvert replacement: $250,000 (Covered by the Allegan County Road Commission)
Patterson Rd Bridge replacement: $330,000 (50/50 split between county Rd Commissions and Drain Commissions)
Preliminary costs could run $800k to $1.25 million. (The maintenance costs for the sand/debris trap should probably be added to the list) None of these numbers are “etched in stone” and how the costs are apportioned is still being worked out.
The most important thing right now, is to get the word out to neighbors, to get involved and let their voices be heard, in person at the Necessity Hearing on Feb 5th; or in writing to their Drain Commissioners and other elected representatives. I personally feel like the Cuddy Intercounty Drainage Board has been listening to us and adding our goals to their project agenda. They made it mandatory that the services of an Environmental Engineer (Aaron Snell of Streamside Services) be added as a consultant, to help deal with some of the problems the Cuddy residents have been dealing with. Russ Yarger, Barry County Drain Commissioner, has attended every meeting and answered questions from the public. And since the Cuddy Watershed is a tiny part of the Allegan/Barry drainage systems, it’s going to take some volunteer effort to monitor it and clean it up. On the other hand, because it IS small – it should be relatively easy to do, and WE can do it!!