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Tara homeowners seek help from county over dam issue

Residents of Tara subdivision could be in deep water if a potential problem is not resolved soon.

David Robakiewicz, president of the Tara Homeowner’s Association, came before the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors Monday to inform them the threat level of the dam in the subdivision had been raised by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality from a low hazard to high hazard. A high hazard means that if there were a breech in the dam, there would be risk to the properties below the dam, including the Gum Tree subdivision and a “potential for disruption in transportation, as well as utilities.”

According to Robakiewicz, in October 2014 the homeowner’s association received a letter from MDEQ informing the former president of the homeowner’s association of the change.

He added that the letter from MDEQ also stated failure to comply with inspection “would be allowing the dam to deteriorate to unsafe condition.”

“Thereby, if we did not have the inspection done, they could demand that we drain the lake and have the dam removed,” Robakiewicz said.

Costly inspection

The Tara Lake dam is the second entrance into the subdivision and the dam is located on Wishing Tree Lane.

Robakiewicz attended a dam seminar after becoming president of the association and met with MDEQ officials who indicated there are certain steps that must be completed because the dam is considered a hazard.

A subsequent letter from MDEQ stated the inspection must be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2016, according to Robakiewicz. This has allowed him to search for proposals to determine how much an inspection would cost the homeowner’s association.

He was initially quoted a price of $15,000 but has since found another inspector who said it could be completed for approximately $5,000.

The inspection involves four steps — a survey, breech analysis, prepare an emergency action plan and then perform the dam inspection.

According to MDEQ, a dam inspection should be performed every three years. Robakiewicz said the first inspection is the most costly because it is a formal inspection, while subsequent inspections are just visual inspections of the dam.

A partnership?

Robakiewicz said there are approximately 75 residents of the homeowner’s association “and as it is, getting people to pay their dues is pretty challenging.”

“It’s a pretty tough situation now, having to raise $5,000,” Robakiewicz said. He hopes the supervisors can assist in some way to perhaps find a grant to help pay for the inspection.

“Or maybe you guys can go in with me and help incur some of that cost,” Robakiewicz said. “This is something we are going to have to do. The risk is, if we don’t do this, the lake will be drained.”

According to board of supervisor president Jeff Busby, county engineer Larry Britt will begin looking for some grant money.

“Most grants have a little bit of match money,” Britt said.