Walnut Ridge officials plan to improve drainage

7/2/2003 The Jonesboro Sun

By Curt Hodges

WALNUT RIDGE -- "You can't drain a flat place," Walnut Ridge Mayor Glenn Murphy said Tuesday.

However, officials of the Lawrence County seat are going to give it a try.

Murphy and Roger Duckworth, the town's fire chief and city inspector were out Tuesday surveying some of the worst places with an eye toward unstopping culverts, cleaning out ditches and doing other things to improve drainage.

There was not a lot of water standing Tuesday, but Monday was a different situation, they said.

"We got three to four inches of rain Monday, and it all came within a couple of hours," Murphy said. "Water was in ditches, yards and in streets. Water was nearly everywhere, but it soon went down," Murphy said.

"We definitely had a big problem Monday."

Drainage has always been a problem, especially in certain parts of Walnut Ridge, but Murphy said that city officials intend to do as much as they can to improve the situation. Their plans include cleaning out some ditches, unstopping culverts and just generally removing obstacles to drainage wherever practical.

Murphy and Duckworth said fire department personnel will utilize high-pressure hoses where they can to clear obstructions of built-up silt in drainage tiles. The city officials also plan to re-dig filled-in ditches in some parts of the city, particularly in the southeast quarter, which is one of the lowest parts of the city.

A ditch along Hazel Street that takes water south also will be improved in the future.

"That's something that we'll have to hire done, because the city doesn't have the proper equipment," Murphy said.

In April, Murphy sent a letter to the Lawrence County Conservation District asking for assistance in making a drainage survey. In the letter Murphy pointed out that "Good drainage is vital to the city's economy and health. The drainage problem must be addressed before we can provide an effective mosquito eradication program.

"As you know, good drainage is vital to providing an economical program for paving streets in our city," Murphy pointed out.

"If we do get help getting the survey done, then we'll have a blueprint in front of us" to help determine where drainage work is needed the worst and where to begin, the mayor said.

It takes money to work toward improving drainage, and the mayor pointed out that thus far this year revenue is down and expenses are up.

"We can't do a whole lot right now," he said.

But, the things that can be done without too much expense will be done first, he said, and when funds are available, other projects will be tackled.

Standing water adds to an already worsening mosquito problem, the mayor pointed out. To help with that, the city is providing four ounces of "Mosquito Barrier," a garlic-based material that is mixed with water, vegetable oil and soap and can be sprayed around residences.

"We're providing everyone four ounces of the material when they pay their water bill," he said. Anyone can pick up a bottle at the mayor's office, and refills are also available.

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