by: Jacob Blount, Ozarks First
The site of the low water crossing on Bull Creek where three individuals have drowned due to high water in the last two years will be demolished, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The crossing was found to be “not in compliance” after an investigation last month by the Corps. The concrete crossing was impeding fish from moving because its culvert tubes were frequently blocked on the upstream side and were too high on the downstream side to allow fish passage during low water.
After the investigation, Jay Townsend, Chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock district, says the bridge was found to be in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
“We’re not in the business here to tell people they can’t develop on their private property if they’re meeting the requirements for that Nationwide permit to allow safe fish passage as well as not obstructing flows during high water,” said Townsend.
Townsend says this isn’t a safety permit issue, but adds that Bull Creek has a water safety issue.
“People like to get on it when it’s very flashy and they get on it when it rises six feet, and ten feet in some instances,” said Townsend. “So, while the structure may have created a danger, we don’t know with or without it if those people wouldn’t of lost their lives. We can’t guarantee that.”
Townsend says the next step is for the property owner to submit a new design plan to the Corps before construction can begin.
“We don’t have his new designs yet,” said Townsend. “Last Wednesday was the end of the two week period that he had to return a letter to us, letting us know that he was going to get it into compliance.”
The property owner, Steve Johnson, has responded to the Corps that he plans to demolish the current structure and build a new one.
Johnson will be able to use his Nationwide permit he previously acquired, but still has to send in his design plans to be approved before construction can begin.
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