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Because of the height difference, water remains in the ditch along Point Mallard Drive behind homes on Blackhall Lane Southeast, even during periods of extreme drought.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Because of the height difference, water remains in the ditch along Point Mallard Drive behind homes on Blackhall Lane Southeast, even during periods of extreme drought.

Hiding In Plain Sight
Pointe Mallard Estates drainage woes
Residents’ runoff still stagnates near pipes

By Catherine Godbey · 340-2441

Promises made to Decatur residents at Pointe Mallard Estates remain unfulfilled.

Promises addressed the slow drainage problem in the channel between Point Mallard Drive and Blackhall Lane Southeast that plagued the neighborhood.

When residents first contacted The Daily in August, the low flow rate resulted from the channel lying lower than the pipe that flushes the water out of the ditch.

Because of the height difference, water remained in the ditch, even during periods of extreme drought, such as the one besieging North Alabama.

Water flow

Responding to the complaints in August, Mark Petersohn, Decatur’s engineering and public works director, said his department would improve the channel to increase the water flow.

“The grade is a little too low, and the water is not getting into the pipe,” he said. “The work will be scheduled for September.”

After years of stagnant-water concerns, a solution to the drainage nuisance appeared feasible.

September ends Sunday, and the manmade creek still exists.

According to Petersohn, Public Works crews graded the channel, which initiated water movement from the channel to the pipes.

Stagnant water

Residents wonder why, if improvements are complete, the channel still contains stagnant water.

Instead of flowing through the pipes, the water runoff from residents washing their cars and watering their lawns collects in the channel, providing a breeding ground for insects.

“My chief concerns are the mosquitoes, snakes and varmints that this environment attracts,” Gary Morris, a resident, said. “I’ve started seeing more snakes. They crawl towards water, and with this dry weather, water is available in the ditch.”

Morris, the designated snake catcher, retrieved a snake from a neighbor’s lawn and is in search of another slithering through his garden.

Both Morris and Petersohn agree the excess of grass clippings, sand and mud settled in the channel obstructs the water flow.

For Morris, rectifying the stagnant-water issue requires the city raising the level of the channel so that a natural flow occurs toward the pipe.

Whereas Morris looks for the city to resolve the issue, Petersohn looks to the residents.

“To the extent possible, we encourage citizens along this channel to bag their grass clippings and to keep erosion in check with good ground cover,” he said.

Decatur’s weed, junk and litter ordinance, which regulates property within the city limits, prohibits the collection of stagnant water. The ordinance, however, fails to specifically mention channels.

“It is a gray area,” said David Lee, code enforcement officer with Community Development.

The primary purpose of the ordinance is to eliminate a breeding habitat for insects. In areas of difficult drainage, treating the water with insecticides can accomplish the goal, Lee said.

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