Stinky’ Stouts Bayou leads inspector to sewer leak

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Raw sewage was seen floating in Stouts Bayou along its winding course through the heart of Vicksburg Monday, confirming for a state pollution inspector that action is needed.

The discovery wasn’t news to South Street resident James Jackson. “The smell is just so horrible,” he said.

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality environmental analyst Tony Cox inspected the bayou behind Jackson’s house. There he watched as sewage flowed among the tires and shopping carts under the Second North Street bridge.

Cox tracked the source of the sewer leak to a city line running across the bayou near Crawford Street.

“In cases before, the city or whoever was responsible had to come in and flush (the bayou) out,” Cox said.

For Jackson and other homeowners along the bayou, the smell is just one of many problems that has fed controversy among Warren County supervisors. Little rain has left low levels and the stagnant water in the tributary has become a haven for snakes, mosquitoes and litter.

“People just throw anything into the bayou,” Jackson said.

Although there have been cleanup and bank stabilization projects in the past, District 4 Supervisor Bill Lauderdale pointed out that property lines extend to the center of the waterway and therefore the bayou is not the county’s responsibility.

“Most of the creeks and bayous in Warren County are owned by private citizens and they throw the stuff in them,” Lauderdale said.

Residents of Marcus Bottom and members of the Marcus Bottom Concerned Citizens Committee disagree and asked the board of supervisors to include $50,000 in the 2001-2002 budget for cleaning the bayous.

The committee passed a resolution July 24 and presented it to the board Monday. The committee’s point of view in the resolution is that it is the county’s duty and responsibility to maintain the bayous.

“It’s unsanitary, it’s unsafe and it’s not decent,” said Marcus Street resident James Stirgus Sr. “This is about safety.”

The resolution was accepted for information by the board.

“The government needs to step in here and take the lead,” said District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon whose district includes the area and much of the path of the watercourse through town.

Cox said that state funding could be available to clean trash from the bayous through grants from DEQ. Grants to clean illegal dump sites are available for any Mississippi government once a year.

“There’s no problem with getting the grants,” Cox said. “They just have to apply for them.”

Stouts Bayou begins near Clay Street and flows south and east through Vicksburg, sometimes in giant culverts, sometimes in the open. The bayou joins others and eventually empties into the Mississippi River near LeTourneau.