Lake Braddock Secondary School's much-anticipated renovation has displayed the muddy side of construction to neighbors of the Burke school.
Just two months into the four-year, $55 million construction project, residents of the Lake Braddock community adjacent to the school noticed an above-average amount of silt and mud flowing into the lake, part of the Accotink Creek Watershed, as a result of the construction nearby.
"We started seeing silt runoff the end of August," said Craig Pettibone, a member of the Lake Braddock Community Association's board of directors. "There was evidence of a good deal of silt in the drainage ditches."
Pettibone and other members of the Lake Braddock community are concerned that the runoff they experienced at construction's outset may continue to the project's completion.
"This is a four-year project, so we want to see that this is sharpened up so it doesn't last all that time," said Pettibone.
Lake Braddock is privately owned and maintained by the Lake Braddock Community Association, which comprises 1,300 residents of the community bounded by Burke Lake Road, Burke Road, Guinea Road and Lake Braddock Road.
According to Brian Huempfner, a member of the Lake Braddock community, the association began contacting involved parties, beginning with the county Public Works office, as soon as they noticed runoff in late August.
"Every time it rained, we were experiencing runoff," said Huempfner.
Five sewers, all of which drain directly into Lake Braddock via two streams, were often clotted, said Huempfner. The biggest problem for Lake Braddock is the accumulation of silt and mud on the lake's floor.
Florence Naeve, chief of staff for Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock), said the District has been aware of the situation since mid-September, and several inspections have been done to monitor the amount of runoff.
According to Naeve, Steve Aitcheson, deputy director of the Maintenance and Storm-Water Management Division of the county's Public Works Department, personally inspected the perimeter of the lake on Sept. 17 and discovered "no active sediment loadings."
That weekend, the county constructed rock weirs in front of several of the storm sewers on Lake Braddock Drive and school property to stop the runoff, due to residents' concerns about the potential threat of Hurricane Isabel. According to Naeve, her office approved the site plan for construction by the public schools, which included preventive measures on school property. That plan, said Naeve, would not include off-site silt protection. The rock weirs and a silt fence constructed adjacent to the school rear entrance off Lake Braddock Drive were additional precautions.
"Both school staff and our inspection staff made sure they went beyond what was ordinarily required to make sure there was protection," she said.
According to Huempfner, the runoff is continuing, however. Too much buildup and the costly process of dredging led the community association to build two rock weirs at the entrance of the lake's two major tributaries to prevent buildup on the major part of the lake. In the past, he said, dredging the two coves has cost $150,000, but more runoff could lead to spill-over into the main portion of the lake.
"They're approaching the breaking point," he said.