MDEQ floating $500M post-Katrina plan for Gulf Coast infrastructure

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will wrap up a series of public meetings Thursday in Bay St. Louis on its proposal to rebuild water-related facilities along the Gulf Coast.

The $500 million Gulf Region Water and Wastewater Plan addresses water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure projects on the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina.

The money comes from the $5 billion the state received for Katrina recovery.

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The plan involves building centralized treatment facilities, groundwater supply wells, storage tanks and water transmission lines in six coastal counties where growth is expected. The idea is to provide infrastructure for long-term growth and recovery.

The state, which started the process in April, contracted with the Mississippi Engineering Group Inc. and has been consulting with various people to identify the needs in Hancock, Harrison, George, Jackson, Pearl River and Stone counties.

“I think that this infrastructure will help spur housing in areas where people are relocating because they’ll have access to water and wastewater systems,” said Steve Spengler, a MDEQ project manager who is overseeing the plan.

Some of the plan may involve crossing local jurisdictional lines, serving unincorporated areas of a county as well as benefiting local municipalities.

“There are areas down there that do not have centralized wastewater treatment systems, although they may have access to their own individual private drinking water wells or septic tank systems on site,” Spengler said.

Spengler says most of the projects can be completed in two to five years once they are approved.