Supervisors ponder flooding issues
by Rory Doyle
Feb 20, 2013 | 1882 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Discussion of multitude drainage, flooding and sewer issues across the county continued to be a hot topic at Tuesday's Bolivar County Board of Supervisors meeting in Rosedale.

Bolivar County Engineer Bob Eley and Road Manager James Pritchett both provided the board with updates and suggestions for improvements.

Supervisor James McBride asked the public to remain patient with the board's efforts to resolve the problems, and reminded everyone that Mother Nature often controls when repairs can be made.

"This is the Delta and when it rains a couple inches in a half hour, water is going to collect and it's going to continue to be the Delta," said McBride.

A number of municipalities, including Shaw, Renova and Shelby, have experienced repeated flooding this winter in residential areas because there isn't enough room for rainwater to drain.

Bayous, ditches and canals throughout the county also struggle to keep up, including Jones, Leed, Silver and Porter bayous.

Some of these systems have faced problems for years but McBride believes an increase in building is one reason drainage is getting worse.

"Renova, in my district, has seen a lot of commercial and residential buildings go up in the last five years," said McBride. "A lot of these are on low ground and we all know water goes to the lowest area.

"And before they were built, there was less in the way for the water to drain."

"I'm asking for people to be aware when building structures," added McBride. "Do your homework and look for areas that are prone to flooding before you build."

McBride believes another problem stems from level farmlands that are not equipped to handle substantial drainage after storms.

Among McBride's biggest concerns is that there's not enough money within drainage districts to do the work that's required.

"Nobody wants to see an increase in their taxes, but there's simply not enough money," he said.

Supervisor Larry L. King has also had to negotiate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do cosmetic work on Silver Bayou, which drains into Porter Bayou.

"We needed to work with the Corps of Engineers because this is not a drainage district bayou," said King. "But we're going to continue working with drainage district commissioners to help clean any ditches we can."

A long-term solution is to continue seeking federal grant assistance to install pumps to remove water but McBride is worried that more immediate changes to building restrictions and codes are necessary at the county level.

"We are going to have to be more proactive monitoring development and construction in the county," he said. "We can't cry over spilt milk — the correct thing to do is get all the parties, municipalities and elected officials together to resolve things to the best of our ability."

For the meantime, the board will continue to manage repairs, clean ditches, trim vegetation and remove debris.

"The public should know that the we are trying very hard to correct all these issues," said King. "The county is going to do whatever it can do to fix the problem areas."

"Unfortunately there's no quick solution before the next rain comes through," said McBride.