City deals with levee issues

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Who knew beavers could cause so many problems?

Brookhaven and everyone along the Bogue Chitto River — all the way through Louisiana — found out Friday when 6 million gallons of stormwater-diluted sewage leaked from a breach in a levee at the city’s treatment plant lagoon.

Thankfully, it looks like the majority of the leaked sewage was contained on site and only 1.3 million gallons made it to the river.  But that’s still quite a leak — almost as many gallons as two Olympic-size swimming pools.

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The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality released a contact water advisory for the portion of the river from Hwy. 84 to southwest Walthall County. Louisiana environmental officials did the same.

The advisory recommends that people avoid contact with the water altogether — swimming, wading or fishing. Obviously, you shouldn’t eat any fish caught in the river right now.

Ralph Augimeri with Mitchell Technical Services said the leak was discovered Friday morning during a routine inspection and crews immediately put a temporary plug in it.

“It looks like one of the burrows may have undermined the levee wall,” he said. “It took out a portion of the dike.”

Beavers are known to burrow into levees and chip away at the embankments. It hasn’t happened in Brookhaven before, but it’s a common problem around the nation, he said.

Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox said MDEQ will test the water again today. Hopefully, the water quality is good enough to lift the advisory.

Once a permanent repair to the levee is made, the city may want to invest in a beaver relocation program to prevent another leak like this.