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Bonita dam: Lignite is culprit causing damage

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Oct. 26, 2002
Federal officials are moving to treat the soil at Bonita Lakes before too much lignite causes structural damage to the dam holding back the 195-acre upper lake.
Lamar Gunter of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resource Conservation District is in charge of the project.
Gunter said lignite, a brown, coal-like substance, makes soil too acidic to support vegetation.
Gunter said repairs on the dam will have to wait until spring because autumn is not a good time to plant summer grass.
The dam at Bonita Lakes is one of two area flood-control dams scheduled for preventative repairs. The other is Sowashee No. 2 on Murphy Road near Pine Ridge Landfill. Both are considered Class C, high-hazard dams because of the number of people and roads below them.
The two dams were built with federal funds and both need lignite removed from the soil.
The work is made possible in part by a $30,000 grant from the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
Don Underwood, Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission deputy director and grant administer, said the grant will cover 70 percent of the cost to repair the dams. The other 30 percent will be split between the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality inspects high-hazard dams in one-, three- and five-year intervals.