Sand piles up from lake dig
Soil test for dam, not 16-acre lake
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:00 PM
As Madison County deals with the disposal of tons of unusable sand unearthed in a $2.2 million recreational lake project, an engineering report obtained by the Madison County Journal shows soil tests were never done on the 16-acre lake bed.
Dirt work continues at Sulphur Springs Park in northeast Madison County as county road crews continue to move tons of sand.
The $14,000 report by Ridgeland-based Burns Cooley Dennis, Inc., was a geotechnical survey for Sulphur Springs Park dam, not the lake. The survey was compiled for Warnock and Associates, whose principle is County Engineer Rudy Warnock.
Madison County supervisors in July when told about the sand voted 4-1 to declare 400,000-500,000 cubic yards of it surplus and distribute it to nearby landowners, paying them a fee.
A week later the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District said they would haul the sand away for free and use it for beaches at the Ross Barnett Reservoir.
Officials have said that the lakebed is so sandy that in order for the lake to hold water a layer of clay may have to be put down.
The 2010 report revealed several kinds of dirt around the dam, including sands that would have to be zoned if used to construct the dam because of permeability issues.
The report included a proposed embankment design due to the nature of the materials found.
It reads, "Because of the higher permeability foundation soils, some under seepage control measures are needed to protect stability of the embankment."
At one boring site, between four feet and 13 feet, the dirt was "found to be fairly wet and weak."
The report was obtained through a public records request following recent activity at the park due to nearly 400,000 cubic yards of excess "sugar sand."
Road Manager Lawrence Morris told county supervisors at a recent board meeting that he wasn't able to use the dirt for road department needs because it was too sandy. As a result, the board decided to transport the dirt to adjacent land and pay owners a storage fee, in dirt, for their trouble.
As of Monday, the Reservoir hadn't picked up any sand. One county truck was on site taking loads to nearby land.
The park has drawn ire from District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen, who has repeatedly voted against expenditures at the park and questioned why nobody knew there was so much sand there before it was dug out.
District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin said Steen is just grandstanding and he stands behind the project 100 percent.
He said the lake was tested 2-3 times by professional engineers and "that it's suitable to build a lake," despite their being no other payments or reports on file.
"When you dig in the ground, you're gonna find all types of dirt," he said. "Once you get to the dirt that you need, that's where you start."
The site in northeastern Madison County was purchased in 2010, one month before the Burns Cooley Dennis report was presented, for nearly $144,000. Griffin said it was going to be a park no matter what.
He said if it wasn't going to be a lake, it would have been a traditional park.
"If you put a type of park in northeast Madison County here, families can come enjoy it," he said. "It's gonna be playgrounds, walking trails, a lake. A lot of fold are intimidated [with fishing] by the Ross Barnett Reservoir."
Griffin said there were a lot of lakes around but they were private.
"This is gonna be a public lake," he said. "Any citizen can go. Just like other parks in other cities, it's just gonna happen to be a county park."
So far, over $1 million of a total $2.2 million allocated for the park has been spent, with over $540,000 to Warnock. Of that, $770,000 can only be used for roads because it was part of a road bond issued by the county.
When asked if more money will be required to finish the park, Griffin initially said he wouldn't begin to offer a guess.
He later said there was a "good possibility there might be more [money] needed" because they spent some in court fighting protesting neighbors and on "red tape" from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"I see this park being something that will grow years down the line," Griffin added. "We are just on the beginning of this here. I hope this here grows to a place where everybody in Madison County wants to come and see, because you can't find 62 acres of land in west or south Madison County for a park."