Jackson County

Plans could end the overflow of ‘Old Faithful’ in Ocean Springs

The white powder around this sewer manhole along Government Street in Ocean Springs is lime, spread by Public Works employees because sewage has been overflowing south of the railroad tracks east of Bechtel Boulevard since the weekend’s heavy rains.
The white powder around this sewer manhole along Government Street in Ocean Springs is lime, spread by Public Works employees because sewage has been overflowing south of the railroad tracks east of Bechtel Boulevard since the weekend’s heavy rains. klnelson@sunherald.com

It’s been a problem for so long city workers can’t remember when the manholes between the railroad tracks and Government Street didn’t overflow.

A former Public Works director called them “Old Faithful” after the famous geyser at Yellowstone National Park, because when it rains, sewage and rain water gush out of them.

However, the situation is finally in the process of changing, even though it was as bad as ever this week after the heavy New Year’s rains and storms Friday.

People who know sewage in Ocean Springs know the story: The lift station at Bechtel Boulevard was built in 1980, eventually too small and weak to keep up with the demands of pumping an ever-growing amount of sewage from an ever-growing number of homes in the city to a line along North Washington Avenue and away from town. When rainwater leaks into the sewer lines, it becomes impossible and the manholes overflow.

What’s happening now?

▪  The Jackson County Utility Authority, which owns the lift station and main trunk line, is increasing the capacity of the lift station at Bechtel to pump sewage.

▪  The city is working to “slip-line” — a method of relining sewer lines — to keep rainwater out.

▪  The JCUA plans to divert sewage being pumped into the line along North Washington Avenue at Broome’s Big B Exxon and Grocery and take the pressure off that main line so Ocean Springs sewage can more easily move north to Seaman Road.

An attorney for JCUA said Friday the improvements to the lift station will help very much, but “when we have monsoons like we’ve had recently, there will still be overflows. Yes, however, what we’re doing will help.”

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