Corps Issues Permit to Dam Duck River

Fri December 08, 2006 - Southeast Edition

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) Following an environmental challenge, the Army Corps of Engineers has again issued a permit to dam the Duck River to create an 8.5-billion-gal. water supply reservoir in Cullman County.

An environmental group successfully sued to block the first permit and made no immediate decision to continue the fight.

“We’ve got to make sure they addressed the concerns that we have raised,” said April Hall, watershed restoration specialist with the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

The corps issued the permit Nov. 9 to the Cullman-Morgan Water District, said Pat Robbins, chief of public affairs for the corps’ Mobile District. Under the permit, the water district has 10 years to complete the project, he said.

“We’re of course very excited about having at least an option to … provide an alternative water supply,” Cullman Mayor Don Green said.

Since first proposed, the estimated cost of the project has steadily increased, with some estimates well over $50 million.

The proposal calls for filling in the Duck River just north of U.S. 278 with 12,500 cu. yds. (9,600 cu m) of rock and dirt to create a 640-acre (260 ha) reservoir. The reservoir would serve nine water systems in five surrounding counties.

Robbins said the new permit includes a number of special conditions to ensure water quality.

Hall said her group will compare the new permit to the first one. She said it wants to make sure the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the judge’s rulings are followed.