Press "Enter" to skip to content

Local geologist offers good news for Highlands Soccer Field

During an update from Macon County Schools facility Director Todd Gibbs during the March meeting, the board of education learned that a local geologist inspected the Highlands soccer field and believes that addressing “muck” build up in the drainage system beneath the field would return the field to a playable condition.

The field has faced considerable environmental issues since it’s inaugural 2009 season, however the past season was virtually non-existent for home matches as the field’s condition was too poor and unsafe for athletes to utilize.

When it rains, the water must go somewhere, and if the soccer field lacks proper drainage, the water will accumulate on the surface of the field, causing significant damage over time. Excessive water buildup can cause the field to become muddy, slippery, and unplayable. For Highlands, that has meant the creation of standing water on the field, which can take several days to dry out.

Last fall, Highlands community members asked the county to address the issue by outfitting the soccer field with turf, which was estimated to cost just under $1 million. . At the request of county leadership, stakeholders met at the school too take an in-depth look at the soccer field to determine the primary cause of the water build up and determine if a turf field would even be feasible.

Gibbs said he, along with Highlands School administration, Macon County Commissioner John Shearl, and former soccer coach and local architect Jeff Weller met at the school to evaluate the soil and area around the field.

The Plateau sees anywhere between 100 to 150 inches of rain a year and while the field has always retained more water than ideal for a soccer field, it wasn’t until this past year when Highlands reported nearly 10 inches in one month that the issue essentially stopped the soccer season.

When the field was constructed in 2009, it was built near a site that used to house a pond, and developers knew drainage would be a challenge, however there wasn’t a more feasible option for the field. According to the local geologist, the “herringbone” drainage system which was constructed under the entire field to mitigate water issues has become overwhelmed over the last 13 years and essentially has ceased to function.

According to Gibbs, the geologist and his team are working over the Spring Break holiday to take soil boring samples to determine which drainage system will best serve the area. Gibbs said the geologist referenced the possibility of horizontal or vertical drainage systems, something not previously discussed.

Horizontal and vertical drainage systems can address certain problems that a herringbone drainage system may not be able to resolve.

Horizontal drainage systems are typically installed at a shallow depth and are used to remove excess surface water from low-lying areas, such as lawns, sports fields, and golf courses. They consist of perforated pipes or channels that are installed parallel to the ground surface and are typically placed in a gravel bed or surrounded by sand to allow for efficient water flow. Horizontal drainage systems are effective at removing excess water from the surface of the soil, preventing pooling and waterlogging, and promoting healthy plant growth.

Vertical drainage systems, on the other hand, are used to remove excess groundwater from deeper soil layers. They consist of deep boreholes or wellpoints that are installed vertically into the ground and are typically connected to a network of pipes or pumps that can draw water to the surface or redirect it away from an area. Vertical drainage systems are effective at lowering the water table and preventing waterlogging, particularly in areas with high groundwater levels

Herringbone drainage systems, which are typically used for agricultural drainage, consist of a network of interlocking pipes or channels that are installed in a zigzag pattern. While herringbone drainage systems can be effective at removing excess surface water and improving soil structure, they may not be suitable for all situations. For example, they may not be as effective at removing excess groundwater or preventing waterlogging in areas with high water tables. In these cases, horizontal or vertical drainage systems may be more appropriate.

Once the ideal drainage system is determined, Gibbs said the field should be salvageable and could be restored using grass or be a candidate for turf.

Board member Hilary Wilkes noted that touring the area above the soccer field also confirmed Commissioner John Shearl’s comments and concerns regarding a spring that sits above the property, which drains entirely down to the field below. Gibbs said moving forward, the school, Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor and the county will work together to address runoff from the spring an any solution to rerouting the water would further benefit the soccer field.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *