OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - If you've traveled Belle Fontaine Road in Ocean Springs you've probably had your fill of road construction. Now, you will find even more heavy equipment. This time to bury a large water pipe system in a $9.5 million project.
While the construction may be making an already narrow road even more congested, it may mean better water for 800 to 1,200 Ocean Springs residents.
The Jackson County Utility Authority has been working to bury about two miles of pipe south of Ocean Springs High School for about three months.
The project also includes an elevated 500,000 gallon water tank and will make water available to several communities including St. Andrews, Ocean Beach Estates and Rue Beaux Chenes.
Executive Director Tommy Fairfield, Jr. said it will bring in water from cleaner wells in northern Jackson County about 15 miles away.
"Wells in this area will just inherently have a lot of mineral content. That causes the water to be brown. It's not harmful, still meets the same health department standards," Fairfield said. "When you hold up a glass of water and it looks like it might already have some tea leaves it in, it's not what you want."
That's good news for some. John R. Jones has been a resident of St. Andrews for 28 years and says the new water supply would be welcomed.
"Most people don't drink the water in St. Andrews. They actually used filtered water or buy Kentwood water or places like that. I see the truck in here a lot," said Jones.
The private utility companies in those communities have agreed in principal to hook up to the water line and pay the utility authority for the service, but no contracts have been signed.
Here's the rub. While most of the cost comes from a grant through the Army Corps of Engineers, the rest may have to be passed on to consumers.
St. Andrews Water & Sewer Inc. President Greg Williams says because he hasn't seen the final cost estimates, he doesn't know if there will be a rate increase for his customers.
He doesn't plan to close his wells, but he wants to supplement his water supply because of the population growth. He says he hasn't raised rates since the early 1990s.
Fairfield says he will have final costs to utility services in about two weeks, and that all phases of the project will be finished by early summer 2015.