New housing development causing concerns in Alabaster

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 5:55 PM CST
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ALABASTER, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabaster City Council is meeting today for a public hearing where they will discuss developments around Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve.

Alabaster residents along with University of Montevallo students and faculty have expressed concerns to the council about the negative impact a new development could have on Ebenezer Swamp.

Ebenezer Swamp has a watershed that Alabaster, Montevallo and Calera are part of.

Much of the water that sustains the swamp comes from an aquifer, which is an underground river that carries water and is accessible using a well.

Rainwater falls on the ground, and water trickles down into the aquifer, and that aquifer reemerges as springs in the swamp which ultimately keep the swamp alive.

Mike Hardig, former UM professor, said now that aquifer is not only a vital source for the swamp but it’s also a source of drinking water for Alabaster, Calera, Montevallo and anyone who has a private well in the area.

“So, maintaining that aquifer is essential to not only to the welfare of the swamp but to everyone else’s welfare in the area,” Hardig said.

Back in 2020, Alabaster’s planning and zoning commission approved a housing development called Walker Springs to be built on the swamp’s surrounding wetlands.

According to Hardig, that will divert the water that would normally enter into the aquifer causing water levels to drop.

“If that water table drops, as much as a foot and a half, the springs in Ebenezer Swamp will go dry, and the swamp itself will go dry,” Hardig said.

Alabaster City Administrator Brian Binzer said the city is doing all it can to mitigate concerns.

Tonight’s council meeting will amend the already approved plan to improve the environmental impact.

“Our biggest request from the public is that we can’t find a place to live, we are always looking for opportunities to have good quality housing,” Binzer said. “At the same part of that we don’t want something that’s going to negatively impact neighbors and we don’t think this will. It’s got a lot of checks and balances that you would want for a project of this size.”

Hardig knows people need a place to live, however, he hopes the council will reconsider its approval.

He said more research and information needs to be gathered and he would like to see a modified plan.

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