Design may be flooding cause

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By Damon Lawrence

A shoddy design may have caused the flooding that occurred at Roane County’s new emergency management center earlier this year.

In a letter to County Executive Ron Woody, Purchasing Agent Lynn Farnham said she contracted with McGill Associates, a Knoxville-based engineering firm, to determine the cause of the flooding.

“McGill Associates found that after examining the as-built drawings that they felt the drainage system had been undersized to be able to handle both the roof run-off and the run-off from the hill above the building,” Farnham’s letter said. “They suggested to me that the wrong criteria had been used to determining the size of the drainage pipes.”

The center had been open less than a year when the flooding occurred in May during heavy rain.

SpiritArchitecture, part of the SouthBuild team that built the new center, denied there was a design problem in a letter sent to Farnham in June.

“We do not feel there is a design issue with the system,” the letter said.

The county incurred $53,726 in expenditures because of the problem. In her letter to Woody, dated Oct. 6, Farnham said McGill was going to go back through their paperwork and drawings and decide if SouthBuild had any liability due to a faulty design.

“I haven’t gotten any more information from our engineers,” she told commissioners at their Oct. 18 meeting.