The Hancock County Water and Sewer District on Wednesday hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the Lagan Street Phase II Water Project in Bay St. Louis' Ward 6.
The $1 million project is fully funded by the Hancock County Water and Sewer District, engineer Jason Chiniche said. There are no grants or loans, he added.
The project includes: 34,000 feet of eight-inch PVC water main, 95 fire hydrants, and allows for the water connection for about 270 homes, that currently rely on individuals wells, Chiniche said.
Hancock County Water and Sewer District Director Mike Barr said the main goal of this project is to "provide adequate fire protection to all these customers."
"They have no fire protection right now," Barr said.
Hancock County Water and Sewer District Board Chairman Farron Hoda said this will also be a money-saving advantage for homeowners.
"If you want to save the citizens of Hancock County money, you put a fire hydrant in front of their house," Hoda said.
Providing fire protection has an impact on fire insurance rates, he added.
Barr said residents will also now have access to treated water.
"We want to thank Bay St. Louis for letting us do the project," Barr said. "If it wasn't for Josh DeSalvo, this is his ward, he helped us out a lot. Bay St. Louis is going to work with us a lot on the project as far as letting us open and cut some roads."
Barr said that a bore is also going to be installed underneath the bayou.
"A bore is where you loop your system in together," Barr said. "We're going to go underneath the bayou with a water pipe that will tie into Central and it's going to loop the entire water system in where the water system is constantly moving, and you don't just have water sitting there. When you got chlorine water, the goal is to keep it moving. The rule of thumb is, is that if you can smell chlorine in your water, nothing can live in it and it's good water."
Barr said that about 90 percent of the homeowners are "real happy" about this project.
"They've been wanting water for a long time," he said. "Some of their wells sit down here at the ground. This is a flood-prone community because it's all bayous. We're in hurricane season. 90 percent of them replace their well pump once a year because it goes under water and gets burnt up. With us, they're not going to have to worry about that. You're going to have 24/7 water, even if the power's down, we're on generator backup. So you're going to have water, no matter what."
DeSalvo, Bay St. Louis' Ward 6 Councilman, said the Hancock County Water and Sewer District board started saving money for this project back when he was a commissioner on the board years ago.
"When I went on the council, I had to resign off the board, but luckily the commissioners that stayed on the board saw the same vision and need for water back here and development," DeSalvo said. "Financially, we had set a plan in place when I was there. When I was removed, they kept the money in place and put the money in a savings account to fund this project."
DeSalvo said it will make the area more attractive to developers and pave the way for the city to obtain bond issues for paving and infrastructure improvements in Ward 6.
"Ward 6 being annexed, they felt like they never got the service they completely deserved," DeSalvo said. "This is one step closer to getting the services to the people of Ward 6."
Hoda said that the district wants to provide more water to more residents and is also ready for more growth.
"Water costs more than sewer to install," he said. "I'd love to do more."
Hoda said the board is always looking for more grants to fund future projects.
The funding for the Lagan Street project comes from "collections," Hoda said.
"We're putting it back into the community," he said. "We're giving back. It's nice to be able to give back to the community in a positive way so that the community can grow as a whole and thrive."
Chiniche said that the official notice to proceed on the project is Monday, June 24.
Last week, the contractor, which is DNA Underground from Gulfport, was on site laying out the fire hydrant and valve locations, Chiniche said.
He added that the contract for work is four months.
"A lot of this area is so low that we may have some days that they can't work because the tides are high and the ditches are full of water," Chiniche said. "And of course, we'll have to look at rain days and days like that."
Bar said there will be minimal inconvenience to residents.
According to the contract, there will be no work completed on the weekends and the contractor will always need to have traffic control in place, he said.
Chiniche said there may be some periodic lane closures and that the contractor is also delivering flyers to homeowners announcing the upcoming construction.