Sunday, November 13, 2011

The End of the Twin Riverview Swimming Pools

A few years ago, Riverview's old swimming pool was closed and filled in.

Nobody was happy to see it go.

A few days ago, Riverview's new twin swimming pools were filled in.

Nobody was happy to see them STAY.

The city of Kingsport is in the final stages of filling in and closing two retention ponds on Louis Street on either side of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex. Government regulations require retention ponds to catch stormwater runoff from roofs, parking lots or land changes during and after new building construction, and then channel that runoff into the nearest storm drains.

The two ponds at Dobbins were the source of many neighborhood complaints relating to flooding, insects and child access.

"They should have never put those ponds in there in the first place," says Jack Pierce, whose home sits directly across the street from the biggest runoff pond. "I think they did have good intentions when they first put them in.. I don't think they meant any harm to the neighborhood. It was just a bad idea, and we're glad they finally saw the light."

It probably wasn't the LIGHT the city saw.. more like, the PIPE.

"About 10 years ago, we had done some sanitary sewer rehabilitation in Riverview," says Dan Wankel, Kingsport's stormwater engineer. "But then, we discovered an unused 24-inch pipeline, just lying there underneath the water lines and the sewer pipe that we had the retention pond tied into. That pipeline we found out, eventually turns into a 30-inch line, and then a 36-inch main down Industry Drive that empties directly into the South Fork Holston River. Tying all the runoff from the Dobbins parking lots and the roof runoffs from the neighborhood into that unused 24-inch main, we determined we didn't need the retention ponds anymore."

"I was able to convince T-DEC (the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) that, with the receiving stream being the South Fork of the Holston itself being so close by, and no creeks or streams to empty into first, that we could tie the stormwater runoff directly into the river, without impacting any surrounding property."

Having the pond filled in, takes a big worry off its nearest neighbor.

"I've seen water six feet deep in there," says Pierce, "and kids could have gotten in there and drowned. The set-up the city had, wouldn't carry the water away fast enough."

The backed-up runoff ultimately emptied into the river through the main that we found overflowing along Industry Drive one super rainy day. The pressure was so great, that water runoff leaked heavily at the junction manhole to the river. Although the manhole held in place, had it blown, the blast would have blown it over the ridge to Dunbar Street, 500 feet away.

"We put a project together using different funding sources," Wankel says, "and were able to put in the connecting pipe that drains from the parking lots directly into that unused 24-inch main, and then fill in the land above it. The connection was made on Jack's side of the street, because that's where the pipe is."

Pierce says, he doesn't expect too much work out of his mosquito killer this coming spring and summer.

"Still water breeds mosquitos," he says, "and since the water would still be in the pond for several days, bugs would swarm for days."

"It could be nice to sit out on the porch pretty soon."