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franklin county times

Archusa repairs await state review

By Staff
POPULAR LAKE Archusa Creek Water Park, part of the Pat Harrison Waterway District, is home to a 450-acre lake. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
March 26, 2003
QUITMAN Plans to repair a leaky dam at Archusa Creek Water Park are on the desk of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
It is standard procedure for the DEQ to approve such projects. Robert Millette, chief of the DEQ's surface water division, said he received the paperwork on Friday.
Although Millette gave no details or timetables on the Archusa project, he said he expects to make a decision promptly.
Jolly Matthews, attorney for the park's parent agency, the Pat Harrison Waterway District, said he would like work finished by June.
Recreation area
The park, just east of Quitman, is a 515-acre area with a 450-acre lake, four cabins and 69 camp sites. It is one of nine parks maintained by the 15-county Pat Harrison Waterway District, which relies on tax dollars and fees to operate.
But the Archusa park and the Hattiesburg-based waterway district have been centers of controversy.
Since July 2001, the district has been in a legal dispute with Engineering Plus over alleged negligence in supervising repairs to the Archusa dam.
The suit, filed in Forrest County Circuit Court, also names another firm, Mid-South Construction Inc., as a co-defendant because it was allegedly negligent in the construction work.
The waterway district itself also came under state scrutiny about its management of the Archusa park.
The state Legislature's PEER Committee, a government watchdog panel composed of state House and Senate members, issued a report clearing the district in December.
But PEER also advised the district to move ahead with repairing the dam.
Slow repairs
Max Arinder, PEER's executive director, said progress toward making the repairs was slower than PEER would have liked.
The problems date to February 1998, when the lake's emergency spillway broke. The waterway district sought emergency funding to repair the dam; by July 1999, it obtained $1.2 million in grants.
Repairs were completed in December 2000 by Engineering Plus and Mid-South. But the district discovered new leaks at Archusa in February 2001.
The district, in its lawsuit against Engineering Plus and Mid-South, calls for $500,000 in compensation.
Temple characterized the legal dispute as a "friendly lawsuit" by the district to protect itself. He said there have been some minor problems, which he said have been worked out.

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