I recently attended a regional stormwater summit in Spanish Fort Alabama.  Some pretty complex issues regarding regulation, financing and incentives were discussed.  Apparently the deep conversation put my stormwater thinking juices into overdrive.

On my way home I passed the scene in the above photo and just had to see what was going on.  I entered the project office to meet the likeable project manager Dennis.  I needed to introduce and myself before taking a few photos to add to my writing, speaking and training materials.  I asked Dennis if I could take a few pictures of the stormwater detention for the site.  Dennis gave me a puzzled look.  I clarified with, “you are constructing a facility to capture stormwater runoff aren’t you?”  He quickly said with a straight face, “no, that’s where we bury people.”  The other workers in the office snickered.

I smiled, knowing that I was just out of my jacket and tie and clearly a fun target to mess with on a construction site.  My shiny shoes were obviously out of their element being surrounded by dusty boots.  I cracked a joke in response to his joke but he didn’t smile.  He flipped open the set of plans under his elbows and pointed to a detailed drawing clearly labeled CRYPT.

It turns out that a cemetery for state veterans was being constructed and the vaults were to house honored heroes… not stormwater runoff.

Suddenly, the concept of seeing an underground stormwater detention facility in the sandy soils of rural unincorporated south Alabama on a construction site with a cemetery on one side and miles of undisturbed woods on the other hit me as being utterly ridiculous.  Dennis, probably thinking the same thing, said, “you should have seen the look on your face.”

I told him that this would be an even better story.  I thanked him, took my pictures and smiled on down the road.

A good lesson of how a 60 mph drive by inspection (and even a photo) can sometimes be very misleading, especially if we already know what we want to see.  How have snap-shot judgments affected you and your projects?

Dennis, it was good to meet you.  Thanks for the explanation and good natured conversation.

precast concrete burial vaults awaiting installation



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