Water Supply Proposal
By MIKE KELLER
ORANGE GROVE - Those familiar water tanks that dot the landscape are set to become much more common in South Mississippi as a state plan to build regional water systems moves forward.
So too are the underground pipes that carry drinking water, stormwater and wastewater, according to the draft Mississippi Gulf Region Water and Wastewater Plan unveiled at the first of three public meetings in the area on Monday.
Only a few of the 120 residents and elected officials attending made comments. They ranged from complete support to flat opposition to the $500 million project being spearheaded by the state's environmental quality agency.
Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr was for the plan, which would pump almost $188 million into Harrison County alone to build water supply systems and waste treatment plants.
"Unincorporated parts of Harrison County are clearly growth areas," Warr said. "What an incredible opportunity to take advantage of this effort."
Michael Edwards, a resident of Saucier, said the regional plan would be the foundation that changes the face of his rural community.
"We oppose this because it might bring unbridled, uncontrolled growth to our area," he said. "I can see how people would like to have this so they can develop. We would like to stay rural."
Steve Spengler, the state's project manager for the regional plan, said there is still a lot of tweaking to do to the plan. He said it would be sent to federal authorities for approval after comments from the region are incorporated.
"Acceptance of the plan is an evolving process," Spengler said. "If municipalities don't want to take advantage of the benefits of it, that is up to them."
Becky Montgomery, a Coast resident who moved north after her home was destroyed by Katrina, said it is smart for people and for the environment to develop in a planned way.
"Communities need to have the capacity to handle these people moving," she said. "It would be better to have planned systems as opposed to unplanned, which are hazardous to human life as well as animals and plants."