Lauderdale County, Miss. More efforts are being made to fix a Meridian reservoir that has been drained due to problems with its dam.
Officials with the city of Meridian started lowering Long Creek Reservoir last month.
As the search continues for funding to fix the problem, some city council members are expressing concerns about the way that the entire situation is being handled.
During Tuesday's meeting Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas asked Public Works Director Hugh Smith whether the problem with the dam could have been solved without lowering the reservoir. In response Smith said, 'no.'
"Simply it comes down to a point of public safety and the city's liability," says Smith. "It's our reservoir. It's our dam. We are legally responsible to operate it in regard to the federal and state standard. The fact of the matter is that we had not been doing it."
In fact, for at least ten years Mayor Percy Bland says the problem at Long Creek Reservoir has not been properly fixed.
Thomas and Council President Dustin Markham expressed concerns during Tuesday's meeting that the city council was not alerted to the problem prior to the start of the draining process.
"Even though we had previously discussed it there was never a timetable discussed with us on when this would be done," says Markham.
"We shared this information with you guys in work sessions," says Smith. "Maybe it wasn't conveyed as you would like, but the bottom line is that we did share the information with you as a council."
"We were notified several years ago,"says Thomas. "We never had a plan to correct it. Regardless of what happened in the past, and where we're at at this point or where we are now, we're going to fix it."
The estimated cost for the work at the dam ranges between a half million and more than one million dollars. Once money for that is secured, officials say the work could start immediately, and likely will be finished within four to six months.
City officials are meeting with representatives from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Tuesday afternoon to explore funding options, and to find out whether the draining process can now be halted.