BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Hurricane Katrina battered the eight sewage lift stations along the beach front in the City of Biloxi. Since the storm, that equipment has operated with temporary by-pass pumps and generators. Their ongoing operation is critical to transport waste water to the sewage treatment plants.
"They're still being powered by a bypass pump. That's because all of the electrical panels and everything were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina," said Vincent Creel, public affairs director for the City of Biloxi.
The bypass pumps and temporary power sources have kept the lift stations functioning. But planning is in the works to upgrade and replace the battered equipment.
"You hear all about this $355 million infrastructure project. This is part of it. This is going to go all the way from essentially I-110, all the way to DeBuys Road," said Creel.
You may be thinking, well, it's been nine years since Katrina. Why hasn't the project started yet?
"The big reason that it hasn't started yet is the city has to get some easements from property owners all along the front beach. We've probably got about 120 of them right now, but we need somewhere around 200 of them. We can't actually get in there and get this work done, until we have those easements in hand," said Creel.
The two year infrastructure project will consolidate the sewage lift station operations along the waterfront. Three of the eight lift stations will be eliminated; Others will be upgraded. The one at Rodenberg will be relocated, slightly to the east.
The work will also include laying a new 16 inch water main and new sewer lines along Highway 90.
"With a catastrophic storm, you're going to have a tremendous recovery. This recovery and this rebuilding and all of this work we're doing, it's just as unprecedented as the storm was," said Creel.
Those lift stations along the beach front are critical to the environment. If there's a failure, sewage from the pump stations can leak into the nearby Mississippi Sound. The work is expected to begin by next summer.