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High-hazard dam has residents on high alert

A Spring Lake dam in poor condition has residents concerned a potential new development could become an issue if approved.

Recently the Lafayette County Planning Commission tabled the development just off Highway 6 in order to acquire more information about the lake, which is located upstream from the proposed Pebble Creek residential development.

The issue at hand is a report on the Spring Lake dam from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Dusty Myers of the dam safety division of the MDEQ. In the Sept. 23 report obtained by The EAGLE, Myers stated that “the dam is considered to be in poor condition” after a formal inspection was completed in July by a Mississippi registered professional engineer.

Several issues were noted following the inspection and the dam has been classified as a “high hazard” dam.

Myers added “a high hazard dam is a class of dam in which failure may result in loss of life, serious damage to residential, industrial, or commercial buildings, or damage or disruption to public utilities and major transportation facilities.”

The formal inspection noted several issues and recommended:

• Remediate the erosion issues on the upstream slope, and reestablish a proper vegetative cover

• Add additional riprap armoring on the upstream slope for wave wash erosion protection

• Remediate the erosion issues on the downstream slope, add fill and compact holes formed from tree removal, regrade the slope and reestablish a proper vegetative cover

• Repair the slope failure that has occurred on the downstream slope with the installation of a blanket drain to control the seepage

• Establish a plan for upgrading the dam spillway capacity so that it meets MDEQ Dam Safety high hazard criteria

• A new hydrology and hydraulics analysis is needed since there have been modifications made to the dams’ primary spillway

• Remove vegetation from the primary spillway outlet
One local official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the dam is not at the point of failing.

Carl Sealy who has lived in the area for 40 years, encouraged the commission not to approve the development until more information could be gathered.

“How can y’all neglect the public safety of anyone, even if it was in good condition, and put people right below a hazard dam,” asked Sealy. “Just because you meet a setback, a certain lot size, get the road all right, that does not mean it is in the welfare of the community. We could have the biggest catastrophe that’s ever happened in north Mississippi if this thing fails.”

The commission decided to table the development until they hear from and acquire information from the Public Service Commission.