Hancock County Residents Upset With Water Project Delays

The rain and wind from Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis have only added to the problems of some people in Hancock County. Workers are in the middle of a massive project to install new pipes for the water system.

"One of the nice parts about this area is the canals and the bayous. And if we don't take care of them, they won't be here," Hancock County resident Rhett Magnon says.

Magnon points to the canals and bayous in his neighborhood off of Bluemeadow Road that are slowly filling up with sand. He says the sand is coming from ditches dug out by a construction crew to lay down 11 miles of water pipes.

"The erosion is taking this sand into our waterways and into our wetlands. It also makes a sediment that the marine life won't live in. We're not getting the marine life back here that we use to get and there are almost no crabs at all."

Magnon and his neighbors want grass planted in the ditches to keep the sand in place.

"They said they put grass seeds, but now this has been three weeks ago since they seeded grass and I can't find any evidence of the grass growing anywhere."

Geoffrey Clemens works for the engineering firm overseeing the $2 million water project. He says Mother Nature is to blame for the lack of grass.

Clemen says the first time the grass was planted, it didn't rain for two weeks. The second time it was planted, just the opposite happened, and heavy rains washed the seeds away.

"That's part of his contract. He's bound to get that done and to have it looking good when he leaves with a good stand of grass that will keep the ditches from eroding."

Magnon and his neighbors say if it doesn't happen soon, the sand will ruin their canals and bayous.

The work on the new water system began nine months ago and water has been flowing through them since March.

The construction company handling the project for the Hancock County Water and Sewer District, still has a few loose ends to tie up, including the grass work.

by Al Showers