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Public meeting addresses Clinton’s stormwater issues

By Randy Bell

About a dozen Clintonians concerned about how heavy rain is flooding their streets, eroding their property or sending mud into their yards showed up for the City’s annual public meeting on stormwater issues, which is a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requirement.

“We’re monitored by DEQ,” says City Stormwater Official Brad Hines, who conducted the meeting at the Natchez Trace Visitors Center on January 31. He says the purpose was “to listen and get the trouble spots.”

Paul Farrar lives near the Clinton Nature Center and says his yard and those of his neighbors are eroding into a drainage ditch, where a metal pipe dating back to the 1960s has dropped along a fence line.

“This drainage ditch goes from about two and a half feet deep to around six feet deep within thirty to forty-five feet,” Farrar says, adding that the Nature Center has also “lost chunks of its fence from the same erosion.”

Debra Mann, who lives in College Hills, says there are no storm drains in her neighborhood, only drainage ditches.

“When the water runs downhill fast, it carries the dirt away,” Mann says. “So, there are places where it undermines the road. This is a long-standing problem.”

But Hines says the most common stormwater issue he hears about involves sediment which washes away from a construction site onto a nearby property.

“The biggest complaint I get is when we have breaches in silt fences,” said Hines. “Ninety-nine percent of it is from contractors.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, silt fences are temporary sediment barriers made of porous fabric that are designed “to retain the soil on disturbed land, such as a construction site, until the activities disturbing the land are sufficiently completed to allow revegetation and permanent restabilization to begin.”

EPA says, “The fabric ponds sediment-laden stormwater, causing sediment to be retained by the settling processes.” But the agency adds a word of caution about silt fences. “Many do not work effectively, because they are not well designed, installed or maintained.”

And that’s the problem Hines says he often encounters in Clinton.

“When we sit down with the contractor before they start building, we have an erosion control checklist. These are the things I expect to see, and these are the things [they] have to maintain.” But he admits that some of those silt fences don’t do their job, because they get pushed down by stormwater or there’s a “blow out,” allowing muddy water to run underneath the fence.

“That has been a problem,” Hines says. “And I have addressed it. And I’m one hundred per cent on it. And they put [the fences] right back up.”

Andrea Breland and her husband John, who live on Pinehaven Place in north Clinton, have been having ongoing stormwater problems as developers continue to build homes in the adjoining subdivision.

“I think we first noticed the issue about four years ago, when they started a new phase of the adjacent neighborhood,” Breland says. “The mud came into our backyard, and [the stormwater] created new pathways for water, which eroded around our house and around our patio. At one point, there were probably three to four inches of mud on the back patio. So, we had to have a lot of dirt work done in response to that. They did put up a silt fence. But, at that point, most of the damage had already been done.”

Breland says recent construction work has taken place directly behind her home.

“We have started seeing the mud come back down onto the patio and wash all the way through and down our driveway.”

Hines was scheduled to meet with the contractor last week to follow up on those problems. He says other Clinton residents with stormwater issues can contact him through the Department of Community Development at [601] 924-2256.

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