Controversial drainage project put on hold

November 2, 2012 12:10:52 PM

Jeff Clark - [email protected]


A joint project between the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and Tombigbee Water Management has been temporarily placed on hiatus. Drainage work in the Pickensville Road/Pickens Drive area has come to a halt as some engineering changes to the project are being made. 


"We've had to make some changes on the project and we need to discuss how we will proceeded," District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith said during Wednesday's board meeting. 


According to Bob Calvert, of Calvert Spradling Engineering, a plan to install some drainage pipe along a residential area was met with some resistance from at least one resident in the subdivision. 


"We had some objection from a landowner regarding the depth of the ditch in front of his house," Calvert said. "We had it covered up and we have discussed running the pipe behind the property. We probably need to get a written agreement from the property owner to go forward." 


District 1 Supervisor and board president Harry Sanders questioned board attorney Tim Hudson on the legality of Calvert's request. Hudson said moving the pipe to the back of the house would not solve the problem unless a study is done to determine the necessity of the water flow. 


"I think we need to have Bob do a finding to show the pipe needs to be placed behind the house," Hudson said. "We need to move the pipe from the front of the house to the back of the house for the integrity of the road and for the safety of the children in the neighborhood. The open ditch is a safety issue." 


Sanders clarified the county's involvement in the project before the board unanimously decided to allow Calvert to conduct a study and redesign the plans to place the pipe behind the house. 


"We aren't doing the ditch work, Tombigbee Water Management is doing that," Sanders said. "We are only moving the pipe." 


The project is being funded through PLN grant money through Tombigbee Water Management. The county has voted to allocate up to $50,000 for the project. 


The project was the source of controversy when a dispute between the county and city of Columbus emerged over the county's use of the city's dump, but the issue was not a factor in the decision to postpone the project. 


Smith on Thursday said he did not know how long the project will be delayed. 


"Mr. Calvert has to do some more analysis before the project will resume," Smith said. "We hope to get it done soon so Tombigbee Water Management can divert from a project in Noxubee County and get it done before the winter months set in. By running the pipe behind the property, we can connect to an existing ditch. In the end, it will end up costing us less money. This project has been on the table since my first year of my first term. We had some problems getting all of the landowners and the PLN funds didn't become available until recently."