Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

MWA takes next steps to curtail south Bibb flooding

Site design work approved along Sardis Church Road Extension, Nowell Estates neighborhood
Liz Fabian
The south Bibb County residential building boom that began in the 80s led to major flooding issues on the flat former farmland, but the Macon Water Authority is proceeding with stormwater drainage enhancements.

After decades of persistent flooding issues in south Bibb County, the Macon Water Authority could be just months away from correcting a faulty design of the Sardis Church Road Extension.

A corresponding fix for nearby Nowell Estates could stretch into 2027 as property owners have not yet agreed to the necessary easements for MWA to repair and maintain drainage ditches and retention ponds.

Consulting engineers from Hodges, Harbin, Newberry and Tribble, or HHNT, have finished studying the waterflow issues in the region that have plagued residents since way before consolidation of Macon and Bibb County governments in 2014.

Thursday, MWA’s Vice President of Field and Plant Operations Michel Wanna told the board that they now know how to guide and direct the water around Liberty Church, South Walden and Sardis Church roads.

“Now we have to put it into action. We have to do a design, an actual survey of how the project will go into the ground,” Wanna said.

Thursday, the Authority authorized paying HHNT $220,500 to perform 15 tasks to address stormwater runoff issues uncovered in its South Bibb County Drainage Study. 

The topography of that old farmland that is now Nowell Estates creates a “bathtub” effect where water pools and does not drain well. During the south Bibb residential boom that began in the 80s, designs were not as closely scrutinized for stormwater runoff.

Engineer Daniel Cheek briefs the Macon Water Authority at its June meeting on pending stormwater improvements to the Nowell Estates in south Bibb County.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Bill Howell, who serves on the authority, said MWA has already made great strides in curtailing flooding around Nowell Estates by cleaning out ditches, but retention ponds and concrete drains are needed. Plus, there’s work to do on an easier fix on both ends of the Sardis Church Road Extension.

“Unfortunately, cleaning out the ditches is not going to correct that one. We’ve got to basically redesign what’s going on,” Howell said. “Part of the problem is, when the county put in the Sardis Church extension, they did a real nice job of putting the drainpipe there, but they didn’t consider both ends of where the water came from and where it was going.”

Property owners on both ends of the road extension suffer routine flooding that washes out one of the driveways, Howell said.

During heavy rains, torrents of water from a 54-inch main rush through a culvert underneath the Sardis Church Road Extension but smaller pipes on either end keep the water from draining adequately.

“You’ve got a 54-inch pipe that just ends where this project will start. And you take a 54-inch pipe that drains several subdivisions, and you just dump it into somebody’s yard, and that’s the problem that we’ve got. And I think we’ve got a pretty good fix,” Howell said.

The property owners most affected by this Sardis Church Road design flaw “are thrilled” to cooperate and provide the necessary easement access for the Authority to perform work, Howell said.

With that cooperation, the regrading and construction might be completed on this phase of the project this year.

Improvements in Nowell Estates could be delayed a couple of years if MWA has to go to court to secure the necessary easements and acquisitions from property owners.

Wanna said he has engaged the Authority’s legal team in hopes lawyers can help those residents better understand what is required of them for the project and will cooperate. The Authority needs access to some private property to rebuild and maintain the drainage system in some areas.

If court battles are involved, it may be a few years before that Nowell Estates phase of the project is complete, according to the project timeline.

This month, HHNT is working on construction plans and bid documents, as well as assisting with securing easements and contractors to do the work on the projects.

HHNT also will provide construction assistance through July during the work phase that includes revisions along South Walden and the Sardis Church Extension, according to board documents.

Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

More to Discover

Comments (1)

Comments are Closed.
All The Macon Newsroom Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest
  • J

    JohnJan 12, 2024 at 8:09 pm

    This goes all the way back to P&Z only wanting to build, not taking a second to think about where thecwater is going to go. Short sighted just like now. It’s ok not to build up the city and county with more houses.