Location & Description: The federally authorized Valley Creek watershed flood risk management project is in the greater Birmingham, AL metropolitan area in Jefferson County, Alabama. The feasibility study area extends from Valley Creek’s origins in Birmingham, southwest to the city limits of Bessemer, AL, which was identified by USACE and City of Bessemer as the area of critical importance for flood risk management measures.
Valley Creek is a major tributary to the Black Warrior River system. The upper Valley Creek drainage area is approximately 65 square miles (the study area). The creek emerges from an underground storm drain to an open channel in central Birmingham near Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street. From this point the creek flows southwesterly for about 18 miles through predominately residential, commercial, and industrial land uses in the cities of Midfield, Roosevelt, Brighton, and Bessemer.
Problem & Need: Valley Creek has a history of frequent river flooding with low warning times with associated depths ranging from 1-6 feet in the Upper Valley Creek watershed overbanks. Notable historic events occurred in April 1979, December 1983, September 2011, and April 2014. Other recent out-of-bank invents include: December 2015, December 2016, April 2017, September 2018, and December 2018. Frequent out-of-bank flooding occurs almost annually posing a potential threat to life safety and causing recurring economic damages. There is a need to achieve reduction to the potential risk of loss of life as well as reduce economic damages due to flooding.
Activities to Date: After a detailed study effort by a team consisting of members from both the Kansas City District and the Mobile District, the National Economic Development (NED) plan was selected following the Agency Decision Milestone (ADM) in November of 2020. This was followed by a report by the Chief of Engineers recommending Congress authorize construction of the recommended plan.
The plan consists of two overbank detention basins located in the northern half of the study area, with recreational features with gravel trails around each detention area. The detention basins will provide flood relief for communities for the entire extent of the study area along the main stem Valley Creek. The plan will reduce economic damages and the risk for loss of life from flooding along the Upper Valley Creek watershed, as well as seek ancillary environmental, water quality, and recreational benefits.