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Diamondhead places moratorium on landscape ditches to study drainage issues

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:26 PM CDT
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DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. (WLOX) - Diamondhead is starting to take a hard look at drainage in their city. The city council passed three measures Wednesday to begin addressing a problem that has become increasingly worse.

Open ditches are the primary drainage system for the city. But for those who don’t like the open ditches in their front yards, the city allows covered culverts, also known as landscape culverts.

Mayor Nancy Depreo said the closed drainage systems are starting to be installed in shared drainage easements behind houses.

“It wasn’t supposed to be in the back,” said Diamondhead homeowner Sharon Tonti.

Tonti and her husband built their house on Golf Club Drive 30 years ago without ever having any flooding issues. A large open ditch ran along the back of her yard that handled rain runoff.

“They actually put big white boulders in which looked very nice,” she said. “And didn’t have any problems through heavy rains or anything. It drained quite well.”

But in the spring of 2019, a developer started clearing the wooded land behind her house. When the work began, Tonti said she was assured by the city that drainage would not become an issue. But the open ditch was replaced by a closed culvert under the city’s existing laws that allowed for that.

“Two or three days after they filled the ditch, the flooding started,” said

Tonti said the underground drainage pipes don’t work as well as the ditch. Now, when it rains, up to three feet of standing water fills her backyard.

“They could have put the ditch back in,” she said. “It would have been cheaper for everyone.”

Mayor Nancy Depreo said Tonti’s trouble is one example of why the city council issued a moratorium on any more landscape culverts. They essentially halted any new underground drainage until the city and engineers can study the issue.

“I’m glad they’re going to stop it because now all of a sudden there’s a lot of flooding here, and I don’t think we’ve had that much flooding here before,” Tonti said.

The city council also approved a new engineering study of the drainage design in the Beau Vue II development behind Tonti’s house.

The council also authorized the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing to consider improving the city’s stormwater drainage and storage.

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