Richland Creek Watershed Alliance blog

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Addressing Your Questions- What are the Benefits or Foreseeable Detriments?

Since our last blog RCWA has received numerous questions and concerns about the Rogers Group project and permit request to relocate a 800 foot reach of Richland Creek. That is good news- many stakeholders are looking at water resource issues and asking good questions to better understand this essential but sometimes controversial topic.
At the north end (top) of the quarry, east of what looks to be an upside down foot, is a dip. This is the stream channel Rogers Group proposes to fill-in and where the quarry wall collapsed during the flood. You can clearly see there is no riparian area remaining on the quarry's side of creek due to mining encroachment. Rogers Group describes this as the "flood destroyed channel" in their permit request.

The Group proposes their new stream channel to be connected from the uppermost part of dip to the toe of that upside down foot, north of the existing channel. They also propose to add a second "high flow channel" between the natural and new channel- across the middle of the bottomland, the dip.

What happens to the wildlife, aquatic wildlife and habitat that is there now? I think you know the answer (gone). What is Rogers Group timeline for the work to be finished and what assurances does the public have they will be completed as described? When does Rogers Group anticipate the habitat, wildlife and aquatic life to return? Where are the design plans for this mitigation and why are they not submitted with this permit? This needs to be a one-permit process with both the proposal and mitigation design plans included, now, before any permit is granted for public viewing.

As you can see on the aerial above, encrouachmet has eaten away much of the habitat already. This is why this reach of stream is on the Environmental Protection Agency's 303d Impaired List for "habitat alteration" already. Once listed on the 303d, the objective is to get delisted. When does this process begin, what is the end- game for a quarry? You may know the answer to this too.
This second aerial map (left) has the flood coverage overlay showing the mine filled up with flood water. It has been pointed out we are lucky that the quarry was there because it prevented the homes from flooding (southwest of quarry).

Quarries often become lagoons, harbors and marinas once the mining operation is done and someone else invests. Rock Harbor, just south of this view, was once a quarry. Do you think the quarry wants to mine in the future where the houses are now? Do you think any other areas of the quarry will collapse, withstand a future flood, given the loss of riparian area and erosion there now? Should we be grateful there is now a big hole where once there was an aquifer, riparian area and wildlife?

The overview aerial (right) shows the extent of the flood, after the Cumberland River left it's banks. Rogers Group is moving the stream channel north, towards and into the floodway. Of course, it is unresonable to move it anywhere else- that is where the mine is located.

Hydrology is a science that deals with the properties, distribution and circulation of water, beneath and above the ground. It is a complicated subject but very important, as we all now know after the flood. Hang in there for a second longer. Remarks received from several readers have questioned the impacts this project proposal may have on the homes southwest of the quarry, other properties and businesses in the vicinity and even upstream.

One of these remarks made by a hydrologist suggests "this has not been adequately covered and more deliberation is needed for this project proposal." He asks "will the new diversion channel alter drainage for the entire watershed, making the creek drain faster or slower?" He continues, "straightening the reach, as the application indicates, tends to increase velocity and increase drainage-efficiency, ... will this bring more flash floods at the prision or businesses on the north side of the creek or bring more flood dangers to neighborhoods in the lower part of Richland Creek? Good questions don't you think? We certainly don't want to create another environmental disaster for Nashville.

Okay I am saving the best part for last. There has been several sightings of the Environmental Protection Agency's Threatened Alligator Snapping Turtle in Richland Crek and one sighting that I know of here. If you don't know much about this prehistoric looking creature, they can live to be very old, they clean our streams and there use to be gobs of them but because of pollution, habitat alteration and the harvesting of them for food they have dissappeared quickly and very few places left for them. They don't do well in captivity.

RCWA contacted the US Fish & Wildlife Service to conduct a survey here for this special turtle, since the applicant said, "a formal consultation procedures with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not planned at this time." They just didn't know they had these amazing creatures living on the stream bank and laying on their back in the stream with their mouth wide open and eating fish and anything else they want. The fish think they see a minnow and swim towards and into these marvelous creatures mouth. See 3 incredible videos of the Alligator Snapping Turtle underwater from the ARKIVE website here. Just click the purple.

If you find our work worthy, you can visit our website to find out how to join RCWA, help us out or be on the readers list. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. The aerials here were courtesy of http://maps.nashville.gov/empublic_viewer/.

THE BOTTOM LINE_________________________________________________is-
We need this permit process delayed and a public hearing granted for this project proposal because: more deliberation and discussion is needed for the public's comprehension and confidence that we are not creatiing a public hazard; more information and reveiw of the impacts on wildlife, habitat and aquatic wildlife is necessary and; so the applicant (Rogers Group) can provide mitigation designs and timelines to the public. This should be a one-permit process and the mitigation design plans included in this permit application.

To read the Rogers Group, Inc. (REOstone quarry) permit request #10-17 go to this link
COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED FROM JUNE 29 to JULY 14 (updated June 28th)
Please address your coments by July 14, 2010 to:
Nashville District Corps of Engineers Regulatory Branch (Attention Scott Fanning)
3701 Bell Road, Nashville, TN 37241
Scott.Fanning@usace.army.mil


Your participation is crucial. There is only 10 days left to submit comments!

Thanks.
Richland Creek Watershed Alliance
rcwa@comcast.net

DO WE NEED TO DELAY THIS PROCESS AND HAVE A PUBLIC HEARING?
What do you think?

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