Dispute Over Drainage In D'Iberville

A D'Iberville land owner fears a new development may be polluting his lakes. After getting nowhere with several complaints to city hall and the state, he called WLOX News for help.

It's a story of muddy waters, multi million dollar development and persistent complaints. Harrell Mallett claims drainage from the new "Grand Theater" may be washing pollution into his lakes.

The developer says that's simply not true.

"These lakes have been here since the 1940s. And my family has lived here since 1926," said Harrell Mallett, as he showed off his property along Mallett Drive.

He says the Mallett family has long enjoyed its freshwater lakes.

"It's about six acres of lakes there, that are normally just as clean and pure and the cattle drink the water. We eat the fish from the lake," he said.

But Mallett believes a new neighbor, the Grand Theater just down the street, may be muddying the waters. He fears parking lot pollution from that development overflows from the retention pond designed to handle the storm water.

"And we welcome the theater. It's just that we don't welcome their pollutants and their contamination running onto our property and in our lakes," Mallett said.

He admits that many other acres of land drain onto his property and into his lakes. But he says there wasn't a problem until the theater's retention pond came along.

"And we handled the water quite sufficiently. There's no mud ever come into our lakes from the natural flow. It's only from the retention pond and since the retention pond was put in," he explained.

A spokesman for Encore Enterprises, which built the theater, disputes Mallett's claims about overflow pollution coming from the retention pond.

"That is absolutely not true. We have gone through from day one and this property has been engineered and re-engineered. From the DEQ, the Army Corps of Engineers, the city engineers, our engineers," said Patrick Barber, a spokesman for Encore Enterprises.

Barber says if anything, the developer was overly cautious about drainage since Mr. Mallett has long voiced his concern.

"We got stopped through the process a few times because he was questioning everybody. So, we got heavily scrutinized. And because of that, I even stand more behind all of this. Because it's been a very close scrutiny through the whole process," said Barber.

Harrell Mallett has filed numerous complaints with the DEQ. The latest was last week. A DEQ spokesman says that one is still open, but up until then the developer has been in full compliance with all permits and environmental requirements.

A DEQ visited Mallett's lakes on Tuesday, taking water samples for a study of possible pollutants.