Heavy rains show off city's drainage ‘warts'

 Standing water like this on Pine Acres several days after the latest rain are just part of the drainage problems in the neighborhood.
Staff Writer

February's heavy rains have shown off the city's warts, but West Point leaders hope to address at least some of them during the next few months.

During its meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen approved applications for two drainage mitigation grants, one $66,930 for Seitz subdivision off Highway 50 West and another for $68,250 for Pine Acres subdivision of Crepe Myrtle on the city's northwestern edge.

The grants are through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and EMA Director Kerrie Gentry-Blissard said preliminary indications were the city had a good chance at getting them this summer.

The city would have to match a total of $33,795 and Public Works Director Joey White said he hopes in-kind labor by city crews could count toward those expenses.

Along Seitz Road, Wright said the project would include replacing 60 driveway culverts and six cross drains, as well as cleaning out ditches on both sides of the road. At Pine Acres, 57 driveway culverts and 12 cross drains would be replaced and the ditches improved.

In both cases, crews also would improve drainage upstream from the neighborhoods.

"Seitz has been a problem for at least 30 years and Pine Acres is not far behind," Wright told the board.

"If you don't do the ditches and do them right, it won't do any good. And at Seitz, we're going all the way back up to Lone Oak to clean out, from Lone Oak all the way down to the subdivision," Wright explained in response to a question from the board. "The same over at Pine Acres, all that area through there."

Residents of the areas will be happy to get any relief they can.

"I'd put in a dollar if it would help," Pine Acres resident Dale Matthews said, noting ditches, culverts and a number of other things contribute to the long-standing problem.

"I'd not only like to see the ditches but also the pavement," he added as he walked his dog.

"Oh my, anything would be a help. It gets terrible. You see that spot down there, it just runs everywhere," said another resident as she checked her mail, pointing to a flooded area along the west loop of the road.

At Seitz, the sentiments were the same.

"I can't tell you how many times it gets up in the yards and across the road in spots every year. It's been terrible this year with all the rain, but it's the same every year. There's no place for the water to go," said a Seitz Road resident as he unloaded his car.

The two projects are the the top of a priority list the city has been building to address drainage problems "as we can afford to," Mayor Robbie Robinson said.

He noted heavy rains in January and February have highlighted the problems.

Those rains also have West Point Water and Light acutely aware of rain runoff getting into the city's sewer system and backing up its treatment system and lagoons.

Where problems once came up and down with heavy rains, they are lasting longer, causing more problems as runoff and sewage back up into yards and in some cases, homes.

As soon as conditions dry, WPW&L will get camera crews to scope out as many sewer pipes as possible in areas along, under and over the many creeks, streams and ditches that run through the city.

The pipes have either cracked or broken and collapsed completely, allowing water to get into the system. Silt and dirt getting into the pipes make the problem worse.

"With the big rains we've had, everybody's having problems," WPW&L Director "Boodro" Marsac told the board. "It depends on the elevation of your house as to how bad the problem is, but it is getting worse.

"If we can get the cameras in, we can get the problems identified and start trying to address the worse areas when it dries out in late summer and fall, either trying to line some of the deeper ones like we are doing along Church Hill or replacing some of the ones that aren't very deep," he continued.