Lake owner upset over church's construction runoff

Lake owner upset over church's construction runoff

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Randy Harper says the runoff is ruining his lake. Randy Harper says the runoff is ruining his lake.
HOOVER, AL (WBRC) -

A Shelby County homeowner says his neighbor is ruining his property. He says a construction project at Riverchase United Methodist Church has caused some serious problems for his lake.

"We fish this pond every day. The neighbors fish it. Their kids. We've eaten out of this pond. Now we have this problem of the mud," said Randy Harper, the owner of the lake.

Since construction started at the church, Harper says mud has poured into the lake at his home causing the water level to drop significantly.

"It's come in so fast that it's moved the pier, eroded our property, and the roads," Harper says.

It's a problem the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has addressed. The agency shut the construction site down in 2011 because there was not enough being done to stop sediment runoff and erosion. After the church hired a new construction company ADEM allowed some work to resume. But in August an inspection found there are still issues.

"Issues with their management practices things were not done properly and not managed properly," ADEM spokesman, Scott Hughes, said.

According to Hughes the sediment problem goes beyond water levels dropping.

"It can be very detrimental to aquatic organisms in our waterways. They can smother aquatic life," Hughes said.

Harper has noticed the sediment's effect on the life in his pond.

"Nothing can grow. The vegetation cannot grow. The fish are starving to death," Harper said.

The state has told the church to remove the sediment and mud from Harper's lake.

Senior pastor Jim Savage says he is committed to fixing the problem but says it must wait until construction ends.

"Our goal is to make it as best as we possibly can and have the lake fully restored once the construction project is over," Savage said.

Harper says he's been waiting two years for the construction project to be completed and wants it fixed immediately. He says he's racked up a bill of $30,000 in legal fees dealing with this situation.

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