Family outraged by soggy sewage, city policy

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Jackson County family is upset over a constant sewage problem that hasn't been fixed.  And they're scared they'll soon have to pay for their sewage system repairs out of their own pockets.

A flood of sewage covers a Three Rivers property.

"This is actually coming directly out of the septic tank," said Dwight Biggs, pointing at the puddles and soggy ground outside his mother's home.

Across Hwy 63, Biggs and his relatives said another over flowing tank was threatening a nearby vegetable garden. Biggs' aunt lives on the property, and they're both outraged.

"I just feel like it's a health concern to me, my mother, and everybody in the neighborhood," Biggs said.

Biggs said one of the tanks was cleaned Thursday, and the other was cleaned Monday.  Already, both are visibly overflowing. Biggs said he and his relatives have had to live with the problem for way too long.

"It's actually been going on for years now," said Biggs.  "They're supposed to have been coming out; They're supposed to have been taking care of this."

Although Three Rivers is unincorporated, for years the Moss Point Public Works Department has maintained the sewage holding tanks in Three Rivers.  Public Works Director Chan Burns said the pumps were installed many years ago with help from a block grant, as an alternative to septic tanks.  Each tank utilizes a grinder pump to connect the tank to public sewer lines.

In a recent letter, Moss Point Mayor Aneice Liddell told area residents the city will no longer maintain the pumps.  The letter also said the property owner would be responsible for any environmental or personal damage resulting from poor maintenance of the system.

"Money's tight and we've just had to look at the economics of it," Burns said.  "You're looking at $1,500 to replace a pump, and it's just been decided that it was uneconomical for the city to replace the pumps."

Although tank maintenance is no longer a city service, Burns said the customers in Three Rivers will still pay a sewage fee, as they are still hooked up to a public sewage system.  Biggs said he's concerned a pump will break beyond repair, forcing his family to pay to replace it.

"We have to pay electricity on these things, we have to pay maintenance on these things," Biggs said, "We shouldn't even have a sewer bill."

Moss Point Public Works Director Chan Burns said Mayor Aneice Liddell has decided to replace several of the most problematic pumps on a case by case basis before they're dropped by the city.  He said the two properties in question will be replaced as early as Wednesday.  Burns said the city did not intend to leave anyone with a malfunctioning tank.

"Both of those, we're going to check out the systems fully to make sure everything is working okay," Burns said.

Biggs told WLOX the city cleaned out the overflowing tanks shortly after his interview.

Along with the letter was an explanation on how to maintain a holding tank and grinder pump system.  The explanation advises those with grinder pumps to avoid putting the following items into their sewer systems:

  • Grease
  • Explosive or flammable material
  • Kitty litter
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Strong chemicals or toxic, caustic or poisonous substances
  • Degreasing solvents
  • Diapers, feminine products or cloth of any kind
  • Fuel or lubricating oil, paint thinner or antifreeze
  • Plastic objects
  • Seafood shells

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