Reel Neet Erosion Control
When altering landscapes for development in the Southeast, little things can add up. Case in point: the tiny silt particles that aren’t supposed to be discharged into waterways without treatment.
Blake Thomas, the 32-year-old project manager of Reel Neet Erosion Control, remembers filling a jar with such water and setting it on a shelf in his Southaven, Mississippi, office. He waited and waited for the silt to settle, but it just stayed cloudy.
Given that Reel Neet’s services include site preparation for major developments throughout Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, and the biggest issue always seems to be water quality, it behooved the company to find a method to mitigate such a matter, and it worked with a local chemist who developed a potion called REELFLOC.
Added to a sediment pond by way of a hydro seeder, and with the mixing process hastened by a paddle on the back of a tractor, the non-toxic chemical makes even the finest particles bond within 24 hours, enabling an easier extraction.
“We’re pretty much the only ones who use it, although a version is now used at the wastewater facility,” says Thomas, the son of one of Reel Neet’s co-founders, and a trusted company hand “since before I could legally work.”
“I have to do some calculations about the volume of water before spraying REELFLOC, and in a 24-hour period all the particles bond together to be heavier and settle, and we have clean water to release,” Thomas says.
For a company that started off in 1982 with just a couple of men—Thomas’ father, Bobby, who remains involved, and the retired Bobby Pugh—mowing lawns out of the back of a pickup truck, Reel Neet has long expanded its outreach, constantly modernizing to accommodate more and more complex services.
Reel Neet aids the construction industry in treating water, clearing and restoring land in a nature-friendly manner, controlling erosion by hydro seeding or other means, and doing safety checks for dams. It belongs to the International Erosion Control Association, a professional organization of 2,500 members in over 30 nations that networks and shares solutions to problems caused by soil erosion and the byproduct of sediment—issues that compound worldwide with the digging of each mine, the drilling of each energy well and the clearing of any forest or landscape for agriculture or development.
“Our reputation comes from years of reliable services and being the most innovative company that brings in new ideas and equipment,” says Thomas.
With land clearing usually the first step in a major project and land mitigation the last, developers in a sector of the Southeast often turn to Reel Neet.
When it comes to keeping unstable land in place, Reel Neet has multiple options. It can be as simple as a silt fence or straw wattles and erosion eels to hold back minor landslides on sloping property.
Or hydro seeding, a process in which a slurry of seed and mulch is sprayed over prepared ground. For this purpose, Reel Neet utilizes Profile Products, among the most popular and land-friendly brands for renewing land after construction, roadwork, mining or the development of golf courses and athletic fields.
Manufactured in suburban Chicago, such products can control erosion by hasty seed germination that holds soil in place. For many builders, it’s the preferred method of sustainable soil management.
Should a client prefer the immediate results of sodding to hydro seeding, Reel Neet can provide that service. And with site preparation the first step to many projects, Reel Neet says it can clear land without all the mess and headaches that big machines can cause.
“Reel Neet uses grinding machines that grind and mulch the tree up from the top to the ground,” Thomas says. “It leaves behind a nice bed of mulch. We can grind any size tree needed.”
Such a method, he says, doesn’t necessitate environmental permits because the land itself remains largely untouched. Reel Neet is also set up to seed or mulch multiple acres.
Connected to community
Reel Neet also prides itself on staying on top of the latest land-use regulations, and Thomas says the company’s reputation for water sediment treatment is among the reasons it’s on good terms with “the people who can get your tail in trouble.”
Among the byproducts of that reputation came the project of handling erosion control, storm water inspections, water sampling and sodding for what will be the largest high school complex in Tennessee, Collierville High in suburban Memphis.
As of January 2017, the Memphis Commercial Appeal described the site as a sea of mud with the tires of vehicles sinking and parts of the main building partly flooded—in other words, a mammoth project for Reel Neet and all the other contractors. But Thomas is confident that come its projected opening in August 2018, the new Collierville High will be a model campus.
Reel Neet will have plenty of other work to keep it busy and possibly add to its work crew, which numbers in the 30s during prime building season.
Another project of note includes earth mitigation and environmental restoration for the pipeline industry, a sensitive task that Reel Neet ventured into in 2009, when it was awarded a bid to redo the grounds over 12 miles of the Kinder Morgan/MEO pipeline, which goes from Oklahoma to Alabama.
“We’re responsive and do good work,” Thomas says. “Often we hear, ‘so-and-so said you’re the man to call, so-and-so recommended you.’ We get a lot of business from people who advertise for us by word of mouth.”
Sometimes the first inquiry is about the company name’s curious spelling. To which Thomas replies, “It started out as a joke between my dad and the other guy (Bobby Pugh). I guess it just stuck.”
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