Storm clean up work unveils what maybe once was old drainage system

Published 5:50 pm Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clean up of a hurricane damaged pecan tree behind an old house in West Canal Monday morning revealed what appears to be an old drainage system long forgotten.
Hurricane Katrina damaged an old pecan tree behind Bertha Page’s business, Page Bookkeeping and Tax Service, that was apparently growing on top of an old water system, she said. She hired Chris McCraney of McCraney’s Tree Service to removed the damaged tree.
As McCraney was working on the property to remove the tree a concrete cover gave way exposing what appears to be a section of an old drainage system possibly from the early 1900’s, he said. The exposed section appears to be part of an elaborate system of large and small water holding cells sectioned off with concrete walls high enough to hold water until it reaches a certain height. McCraney said a smaller adjacent cell was exposed after the incident took place that had pipes coming in on opposite sides.
When the system was first discovered McCraney said he suspected it to be an old septic system, but now he and Page believe it could be part of an old French drainage system. Employees from the City of Picayune came to investigate the find and determined that it could be part of an old drainage system that runs all the way to Mills Pond, McCraney said. Page suspects the old system could have been installed when the Crosby Family built the old mill houses in the area.
“It’s part of Picayune’s history right here,” McCraney said.
Whether the system is still functional is still unknown but the system had water in it even though there has been minimal rain.
“Whatever it is it worked well, there were never any holes or flooding,” Page said about her back yard.
McCraney said that the city is unsure of the exact purpose of the underground system, and Page said she was unaware the system even existed on her property.
The City of Picayune is expected to repair the broken concrete lid, McCraney said. Until then McCraney said he will conduct no alterations to the system.
“I’m not going to just fill it up, that would do more harm than good,” McCraney said.
The Picayune Item plans to look into incident further to determine the true nature and origin of the system.