Tucker, GA — DeKalb County has long put off repairs to Twin Brothers Lake in Tucker, an area suffering from erosion, flooding and overgrowth.
The lake is in Johns Homestead Park located at 3071 Lawrenceville Hwy.
A report commissioned by DeKalb County shows an urgent need to address years of seepage in the dam and problems with the spillway, and Tucker staff is trying to help find money for the project.
Inspections on the lake from decades ago identify the same issues, said Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson. Tucker has been in discussions with DeKalb County for several years about maintenance and potential repairs. Ultimately, DeKalb County is fiscally responsible for repairs needed.
Mayor Frank Auman said, “We have been searching for grants and loans to kind of help the cause along. Not because it’s our responsibility, but because we’re anxious to see the work get done. In the end, DeKalb County has to step up and protect damage that would be done if these dams fail, or lack of a stormwater facility if it were breached. That’s a DeKalb County function.”
City staff said they explored using DeKalb County’s stormwater fee collected from property owners, but the funds are currently obligated to other projects. Rep. Hank Johnson’s office denied a request for funds, and for months, DeKalb County said they would pursue the funding for loans through Georgia Environmental Finance Authority to retrofit several dams. Yet, no application has been submitted.
Tucker SPLOST monies do not apply to stormwater, although the dam may be considered a park improvement. The last option is to use money from Tucker’s General Fund, said staff.
An InterGovernmental Agreement between Tucker and DeKalb County states the county is responsible for the maintenance of dams on city-owned lakes, according to Communications Director Matt Holmes.
“According to the county, there are currently insufficient funds in the Stormwater Maintenance account to make the required repairs to the Twin Brothers Lakes dams. The city of Tucker has pursued, and will continue to pursue, alternate funding sources in an effort to expedite the needed dam improvements,” Holmes said.
“I am deeply concerned about the dam and the erosion, especially on the Edinburgh Drive side,” said Councilmember Noelle Monferdini, who has been watching the area since 2018. “It’s eroding quicker and quicker, and we’re going to start losing trees.”
City Engineer Ken Hildebrandt delivered the report at the May 10 City Council meeting. AECOM observed several deficiencies during the 2018 inspection, and during subsequent site visits in 2019 and 2020.
“Both sides of the upper dam and the downstream slope of the lower dam were heavily overgrown with vegetation, with the latter covered with hardwoods as large as 24 inches in diameter. Free water was evident at the downstream toe of the Lower dam across most of the width of the dam, indicative of seepage,” the report states.
The report offers two solutions.
Rehabilitation of the dam would cost $1.65 million in construction fees, and an additional $441,000 for optional recreation improvements. This option would drain the lakes, replace earthen dams, fill a bypass channel (now 25 feet deep) and divert water back into the lake. It also calls to replace spillways, construct a concrete wall and install toe drains. It allows for fishing, trail walks and bird watching.
Decommissioning the dam would cost $570,000, plus $1 million for optional recreational improvements. By removing both dams and draining the lake, the site become wetlands with trails and picnic area. The city could build a trail system to connect to Lawrenceville Highway.
Councilmember Anne Lerner is looking for a plan of action, she said.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” said Lerner. “Who is that ultimate decision maker? Because I’m tired of talking. And I know you all are, too. So, is there a strategy? Do people need to get in a room, map that out, and then deploy? Because either way, DeKalb should be paying for whatever is done to the dam.”
“We’re in this dance with DeKalb County as a team,” said Monferdini, suggesting a community meeting be held with DeKalb County commissioners. “All of the decision makers need to be in the same room with the community.”
Twin Brothers Lake is more than 60 years old. The lake is split into an upper and lower lake, serving as a popular fishing hole since the 1950s.
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