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Pascagoula using $2.5M in federal funds to improve aging waterline infrastructure

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:47 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - More than $2 million is being allocated in Pascagoula to make water line improvements to specific neighborhoods.

This week, the city council voted unanimously to allocate the first installment of American Rescue Plan Act funds to address aging infrastructure in the city.

It’s an issue that affects many residents, especially those living between Ingalls Avenue and Taylor Avenue, which is in the area around the high school. Far too often, people living in that area lose water pressure.

It’s just one of many problems in the city’s aging infrastructure, said City Engineer Geoff Clemens.

“You develop a leak and as soon as you go down and start trying to fix it, you just start losing foot after foot of pipe. It just crumbles because it’s so old,” Clemens said. “Then you get into having to shut off sections and [issue] boil water notices. It’s just a real nightmare for the citizens.”

This year alone, more than five boil water notices have been issued between 8th and 13th streets. City Manager Michael Silverman said the city wants to focus on these specific areas because of the multitude of waterline issues.

“Pascagoula wants to allocate the $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to address water line improvements in the 9th Street and Fernwood areas,” Silverman said. “This is a top priority for us given the age of the waterline infrastructures.”

The city plans to replace and relocate failing water distribution infrastructure serving 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Streets between Ingalls Avenue and Taylor Avenue, as well as the area including South Fernwood Street, Rosewood Street, Dogwood Street, and Redwood Street.

The improvements will upsize the waterlines serving the areas and relocate the lines from alleyways to the street-side of the residences. The majority of the proposed lines will be installed outside of the asphalt within the street rights-of-way in order to improve meter and valve access, hydrant location, and maintenance issues.

The older water lines have a diameter between two and four inches. Clemens said the standard today is roughly six inches, and these smaller waterlines create additional problems for fire hydrants because the lines can not allocate enough water to them.

“To properly battle a fire, they’re either going to have to go down to another hydrant, run more hose, or get an extra tanker trunk in,” Clemens said. “This system wasn’t put in for fire protection. It was to get water to these densely populated neighborhoods that were built to support the Ingalls shipyard.”

It’s an extensive project that Clemens said could take years to complete.

“We’ll get into public bids and then into construction,” Clemens said. “A project of this magnitude, you’re talking a two-three year time frame from start to finish.”

The city is set to receive $2,583,647 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“Given the issues this area has seen, we think it is beneficial to use all of the ARPA funding to help address the urgent needs that area is experiencing,” said Silverman.

The total project is estimated to cost between $2-3 million.

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