Was a dredging promise broken by Jackson County?

Residents who live along Octavia Bayou say Jackson County supervisors have reneged on a promise made two years ago to dredge the bayou.
Residents who live along Octavia Bayou say Jackson County supervisors have reneged on a promise made two years ago to dredge the bayou.
At low tide, the bayou is often dry. Even at high tide, the water is only about two feet deep.
At low tide, the bayou is often dry. Even at high tide, the water is only about two feet deep.
Residents along Octavia Bayou say the neglect has decreased their property values.
Residents along Octavia Bayou say the neglect has decreased their property values.

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Life is different along Octavia Bayou now. A channel that once provided deep water access is now only a foot or so deep. People who live here say county documents from December of 2009 prove county supervisors agreed to dredge the bayou almost three years ago, including their channel. A map even shows the project in detail.

Rob Melton owns a home along the bayou.  "Somehow this dredge project has turned into a boat ramp replacement project. And either it's not named correctly, or there's something else going on," Melton said.

The county supervisor who represents the area says that something else has to do with cash, and not the boat ramp at the end of the road.

"We have not gotten enough money to  go into each one of the little slews and each one of the little channels," John McKay said. "We just don't have the money to be doing all of that. We're doing it as we can."

No doubt, the silt in Octavia Bayou has changed the lifestyles of those who live along the bayou. But perhaps the biggest change they're facing is the change in the value of their homes.

"I did have it on the market in the beginning as a navigable channel and now I can't do it," homeowner Alan Davis said. "It is considered waterfront, but not navigable, and there is a decrease in value because of that."

"We used to be able to keep the boat right behind the house and leave when we wanted to and come back when we wanted to, and now you have to leave on a very high tide and come back on a high tide. Or launch it at the boat launch and bring it under the house each time," homeowner Gayle Jones said.

McKay said there could be an answer in the works.

"One thing we are doing is trying to get permits so that whenever funding is available, we can go back and catch some of these little bayous and things," McKay explained. "I know it's a problem and we'd like to help the residents with that."

Supervisor McKay also says board members have met with Senator Roger Wicker to see about getting federal funding approved for additional dredging projects in Jackson County.

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