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Watershed project should help Tubman Circle

NATCHEZ — An Emergency Watershed Protection program should prevent Eugene and Mary Washington’s Tubman Circle house from falling into a hole in their backyard.

A 60-foot deep hole, 10 feet from the couple’s house on 133 Tubman Circle serves as a storm-draining system for the neighborhood.

Storm water has rushed down the shallow, concrete gutter from the street to the hole over the years, creating erosion.

The Washingtons’ son, Carlos Woods, said Tuesday that the hole has grown dramatically wider and deeper in the last three four years.

“My mother’s scared to death (of the hole),” Woods said.

The hole is now large enough to swallow the Washington’s house if the erosion were to reach beneath the home’s foundation.

“Three or four years ago is wasn’t half as deep,” Woods said.

Woods, now a Ferriday resident, grew up at the house on Tubman with his mother and stepfather. He visited their home Tuesday as part his weekly routine visits.

County Engineer Jim Marlow said Midway Construction should begin the EWP project on Tubman Circle the second week in September.

Residents of Tubman Circle have reported drainage problems to the board of supervisors since 2004.

District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts said the supervisors submitted the area for the watershed project in early 2009, but it was not approved.

Marlow said the project will cost $66,270, with 85 percent of the cost covered by The National Resources Conservation Service and 15 percent by Adams County.

Marlow said the project is not designed to fill the hole, but to fix the drainage issues.

A cement “drop structure” will partially fill the top half of the hole to create a stairs-like structure that empties water into the bayou from a pipe.

“Basically, we’ll construct a slope with terraces in it,” Marlow said.

Watts said the process of submitting applications for an EWP project and receiving approval is complicated.

One of two situations must occur to qualify an area for the program.

A “rain event,” which occurs when the area takes in 4 inches of rain in 24 hours or 1 inch of rain in one hour can qualify an application for submission, Watts said.

In addition, if the drainage problem poses danger to human life or major property such as a house or public road, it can qualify for application.

After an application is submitted, local, state and federal NRSC soils officials must visit the area to determine whether to approve the project for the program, Watts said.

The Tubman Circle project was recently approved on the basis that it posed danger to human life, the Washington’s house, and could eventually threaten the road.

Marlow said 14 EWP projects in Adams County have been approved and worked on since 2008. Two more EWP projects on Lower Woodville Road and Johnson Circle were recently approved with Tubman Circle. Bids for those projects should arrive shortly, Marlow said.

Watts said the erosive soil in Natchez has always caused problems similar to the Tubman Circle issue.

He said developers built the drainage system before homes were built in the 1960s, and homeowners purchased income-based houses with knowledge of the drainage system’s faulty structure.

“Homebuyers have go to be careful where they buy houses and who they buy houses from,” Watts said.

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