USACE gives flood canal a tune-up

By Brandon Martin

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is currently conducting maintenance on a flood drainage channel in Stuart.

The maintenance is being done to remove sediment buildup in the system. Removal of the sediment, which was caused due to heavy rain by events like Hurricane Matthew, will restore the drainage system to optimal standards in order to carry flood water around downtown and prevent the buildup of water in the area.

Rickie Fulcher, chairman of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, said the issue is prompted by a creek that dumps into the flood canal and keeps it wet.

The county applied to use Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money for the project which was awarded to the USACE. The six-month contract totaled $1.2 million.

The project began Oct. 1 and USACE hopes to be done by Christmas.

“It seems like rain is getting worse lately,” said Mark Vernon, administrator of Patrick County’s Erosion and Sediment Control & Stormwater Management departments. “It doesn’t take a lot of water for it to flood, but this construction is purely a maintenance project. The channel has been doing its job so far. We just want to make sure that it is in condition to continue doing that.”

Vernon said that the impact of the construction will be minimal for the citizens of Stuart.

“You may notice an increase of dump truck traffic on Commerce Street and Woodland Drive, but for the most part, this won’t really affect anyone that much,” he said.

According to Vernon, the sediment buildup has been coming from the Mayo River. Heavy rainfall picks up the sediment in the current and it starts to buildup in the drainage system.

“The channel needs to be maintained by the county,” Vernon continued. “The grass in the area needs to continuously be mowed and we can’t let trees start to grow up over it.”

Flood waters in 1979 and then again in 1983 inspired the original construction of the flood channel which Vernon says has been doing well since.

“After they constructed the channel, it hasn’t flooded since,” Vernon explained. “So, I’d say that so far, it is doing its job. By conducting this maintenance, we can do our part to ensure this will continue to remain the case.”

Crews and heavy equipment operators work to maintain a flood channel in Stuart. The work began Oct. 1 and is expected to be completed by Christmas, according to Mark Vernon, administrator of Patrick County’s Erosion and Sediment Control & Stormwater Management departments.

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