Airport runoff plan will work, experts say

May 24, 2010


May 24--CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Recent torrential rains were no problem for the huge runoff ponds being graded out at the new Cleveland airport site, consultant Mark Paslick told Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority members last week.

A massive earthmoving project is under way at the site to stop the flow of sediment into creeks.

The work includes a system of deep ponds, moving part of Tasso Road and installing water monitoring stations and runoff prevention features.

Mr. Paslick and his partner, Ron Fitzgerald, of PDC Consultants of Franklin, Tenn., showed photos of silk runoff fencing stretching in many directions across the meadows, along Tasso Road and parallel to the creeks. He called the scene a "silk fence salesman's dream."

"Hopefully all of this will get us a pat on the back from TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation)," Mr. Fitzgerald said.

Mr. Paslick said the site got about one-seventh of Cleveland's annual average rainfall in 36 hours recently. He said the ponds, which are still being graded and their banks seeded, handled the water easily.

The state water quality board in Nashville recently upheld permits for the runoff plan after an appeal by the Tennessee Clean Water Network. The Knoxville-based network said last week its members will keep a close watch for runoff at the site.

Members also discussed a $26,100 state grant awarded last week to help pay for reducing the height of a TVA communications tower and a cell-phone tower close to the airport site.

The second phase of the earthmoving work could be started this fall or next spring, the consultants said. It all depends on when the Federal Aviation Administration has the money available.

The second phase includes 2 million cubic yards of dirt for the runway, taxiway and apron.

The airport authority's next meeting is June 25 and will include a work session to hear from the local flying community, pilots and hangar owners.

The city also plans a general information session for the public in June.