JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Help is on the way for an area of Jackson County long plagued by septic tank failures.
Following years of planning between numerous agencies, ground was broken Wednesday morning on a $20.6 million water and sewer project.
"With the cooperation of our public officials, we'll be able to prevent instances such as Big Hill Acres from ever happening again. Provide good, quality development going forward," said Brad Bradford, the president of the Jackson County Utility Authority, as he spoke at the ground breaking ceremony.
For more than a decade, residents of Big Hill Acres have endured septic tank troubles. Home sewage systems leaked and failed repeatedly because the area is so wet.
"Some people had to move away because they couldn't live in their trailers. Didn't have any septic systems. And so the people out there really have been caught in the middle for an awfully long time," said Jackson County Supervisor John McKay.
The $20 plus million project will include upgrades at the main sewage treatment plant on Seaman Road and installing 22 miles of new water and sewer lines.
"There are several pump stations that are necessary for the wastewater system. There will be an elevated storage tank, kind of in the middle of the community, to add storage capacity. And there is a new water well on that site as well," explained Tommy Fairfield, executive director of the utility authority.
The project required the cooperative effort of Jackson County, the Jackson County Utility Authority, the USDA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
"This morning of course, we're here to initiate the tangible result of all the hard work of all of us, which is the construction of the water and sewer system at Big Hill Acres," said project engineer, Tom Smith, with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Construction will take 18 months. The 800 plus homes in the area will be able to hook into the new system at no charge.
Those septic tank failures in Big Hill Acres got the attention of both the EPA and the Mississippi Department of Health over the years. In fact, the health department once described that area as, "one of the largest health risks in the state."