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Posted on: January 10, 2023

Cahaba Valley Creek Cleanup Results

Image shows an aerial view of Cahaba Valley Creek after storm debris was removed.


A portion of Cahaba Valley Creek is now flowing much more freely. A significant component of the debris removal project is now complete and provided some much-needed maintenance to remove storm and construction debris from the creek bed and its banks. The project area stretched from Chandalar Drive to U.S. Highway 31, approximately 1.3 miles. 

 The debris removal was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The City of Pelham applied for and received the grant, agreeing that the federal government would pay 75 percent of the cost and the City of Pelham would contribute the remaining 25 percent. On July 5, 2022, the Pelham City Council approved the funding of $266,000 for the City’s portion of the work. The estimated cost of the project was $1.3 million.   

 The next step in the project was crucial. “The creek and its banks are private property. We had to get access permission from property owners to complete the work,” explained acting City Engineer Chris Cousins. All agreed, and the City Council awarded the bid for debris removal to Gray’s Tree Removal Service. Work began in early November. The storm debris was removed with heavy equipment and by hand and then hauled off. 

 During the cleanup, workers created temporary dams to capture some of the debris. “These temporary dams were created by placing a large log or several logs across the creek near the downstream end of the project. As floating materials were dislodged from upstream cleanup efforts, they traveled downstream and were trapped by the dam where the debris was removed. After the project was complete, the temporary dams were removed from the creek,” explained Cousins. 

 On January 5, 2023, Pelham City leaders and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service members walked the project site. After a recent heavy rain, the water flowed smoothly, but signs of the March 2021 tornado are still evident. “Our goal was to leave enough of the creek bank intact to stabilize the area,” said Cousins. He pointed to large root balls left purposefully along the creek bank. “Grading and grassing are underway now. Grassing prevents soil erosion. The grading is primarily to remove ruts caused by equipment and to restore the walking track areas near the YMCA.”   

 Between 800 and 1,000 trees were removed from the creek and the surrounding floodplain, totaling 91 truckloads of debris. That equates to 6,370 cubic yards of trash or 1,592.5 tons. Do the math, and that’s 3,185,000 pounds. The contractor pointed out that two of those truckloads were nothing but construction and demolition debris. Cousins explained, “Construction materials and other items stored on private property can easily become displaced by rising water. People should be mindful of where those things are stored if the property is in a flood-prone area.”

Water is flowing much more freely in Cahaba Valley Creek.

Water is flowing much more freely in Cahaba Valley Creek following the debris cleanup project.

Photo shows root balls purposefully left to stabilize the creek bank.

In some places, root balls were purposely left to stabilize the creek bank.

An aerial view of Cahaba Valley Creek following the creek cleanup.

An aerial view of the work that has been done along Cahaba Valley Creek.

A pile of sheet metal that was pulled from the creek.

Piles of construction and demolition debris were pulled from the creek.

City leaders survey the work that has been done.

City leaders tour the area along with members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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