JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Jackson County residents in the Ocean Beach Estates area could soon be forced to ditch their septic tanks for new water, sewer hookups. The large subdivision located south of I-10 is one of several areas now under this mandate.
Crews were hard at work Tuesday tying property owners to the new water and sewer system in parts of Jackson County. Ocean Beach Estates is on that list.
"The history of Ocean Beach Estates is they had raw sewage actually in the ditches. I mean, it was horrible out here. The ground out here does not percolate very well," Supervisor John McKay said.
In 2004, the county and utility authority received federal funding to put in up-to-date lines. Homeowner Brian Autenrieth was one of the first to take advantage of the hookup.
"The reason I was hooked up to it was all the nightmare stories I heard from the neighbors about every time it would rain they would have to pump out their septic tank."
There are at least 250 homes still not connected. To get the word out now, signs are posted on every corner. Jackson County Utility Authority Director Tommy Fairfield said the next step is to send out certified letters.
"In Mississippi, as in most states, if public services are available for water and sewer it is the law of the land: you need to connect," Fairfield said.
Homeowners in Ocean Beach Estates have until March 31st to hookup to the new system or they will be penalized and that could be very expensive.
"The last resort is the Jackson County Utility Authority could have to force them to tie on to it. You may have to pay for the full cost yourself and that will cost you around $4,000," said McKay.
County officials hope that large fee and the environmental concerns would encourage people to connect before time runs out.
"Every home out here is having sewer problems. I mean, as far as the septic tanks there, having to pump them out three and four times a year, which cost them a lot of money. Once you tie on to the sewer system, you won't have to do that anymore," said McKay.
Residents will have to pay a onetime $50 fee for the hookup and also a monthly bill. Fairfield said the program just started in Bill Hill Acres area, so the deadline for the sewer connection is next year. For more information on the assistance program, call the Jackson County Utility Authority at (228) 762-0119.