Crews waste no time while addressing erosion control

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Erosion problems along a Halbert Heights ditch are proceedingsmoothly toward completion at the end of the month, officialssaid.

Employees of the Vicksburg-based Lampkin Construction Companyhave been lining the drainage canal from Highway 51 to Old Highway84 with riprap, which are large stones used for erosion control.The project is designed to prevent erosion from the high volume ofwater that passes through the ditch each year.

“Our engineer said it will hold the flow of a 100-year rain,”said Mayor Bob Massengill. “In Brookhaven, we have one of thoseevery year it seems.”

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The project is a joint effort between the ciy and the NationalResource Conservation Services (NRCS), a division of the UnitedStates Department of Agriculture (USDA), that was initiated shortlyafter Hurricane Katrina.

“We had been talking with them (NRCS) for some time. There areseveral businesses and houses complaining of erosion problems,”Massengill said. “Hurricane Katrina was an event that triggered theinitiation of the project.”

Greg Brenson, Lincoln County director of the NRCS, said thatbecause of the hurricane, the project was filed under exigencystatus, speeding the process along.

“For a government project, this is about as quick as you cango,” Brenson said.

The project is 65 percent complete after 18 days, said TimJohnson, project supervisor with Lampkin Construction Company.

“So far, we’ve laid 5,000 tons of rock and about 300 yards ofgrout,” Johnson said.

A bulldozer grades the walls of the ditch before laborers canwade through two feet of mud to lay 15-feet-wide sections of filtercloth. After the cloth is laid down, riprap is placed into theditch and moved into place by the bulldozer.

“This project has gone by quickly because of fund raising.Secondly, the quality of work has been exceptional. We are reallypleased. They just jumped in and got busy,” Massengill said.

After the rocks are in place, a dump truck pours grout onto thesurface. Laborers then apply the grout with “house brooms.”

The rocks will stabilize the drainage ditch and prevent furthererosion.

“We’re protecting utilities, primarily, from degrading,” Brensonsaid.

Immediate risks include a telephone poll and two gas linesalmost completely exposed, he said.

“I think, eventually, they were going to start having someserious problems,” Brenson said of local businesses and landownerswith property adjacent to the drainage ditch.

Total cost of the project is projected to be close to $550,000.The city will cover 15 percent and NRCS will cover the remaining 85percent.

“The project is a cost-share program through our EmergencyWatershed Protection Plan (EWPP),” Brenson said.

The federal funds are allocated to prevent endangerment of watersupplies. The project was a perfect fit for watershed protectionfunds.

“We were glad to be able to help the city,” Brenson said. “Thisis our first project with the mayor and we hope to continue to workwith the city in the future.”

The mayor said residents of the area are excited about theproject.

“I’ve had community members tell me it looks better than it everhas before,” Massengill said.