MDEQ to hold hearing on plan to rebuild Big Bay Lake dam

Published 6:50 pm Friday, June 22, 2007

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing Sept. 10-11 in Jackson to hear objections to its permit board’s decision to allow Big Bay Lake dam to be rebuilt.

Twenty-four downstream residents filed a petition for a hearing, MDEQ general counsel Roy Furrh said Wednesday.

The earthen dam collapsed March 12, 2004. Water escaping from the lake ended up destroying or damaging nearly 100 homes in Lamar and Marion counties. There were no injuries or deaths reported.

The rebuilding application, submitted by Chip Tatum and the Land Partners Limited Partnership, was approved in May by the permit board.

MDEQ officials said the new proposal was designed to prevent erosion of the dam, which is believed to be the cause of the 2004 break. The collapse sent 7.2 billion gallons of water downstream all the way to the Pearl River. It drained the 945-acre lake.

The MDEQ said it would inspect the dam every three months for the first year after it’s rebuilt. At the end of that year, the MDEQ would conduct annual inspects. The agency had recommended that the owner have the dam inspected, with his own engineers, every 60 days.