Biloxi aims to continue water, sewer progress in Woolmarket

Mayor A.J. Holloway said this week that he is confident that Biloxi will continue progress on installing water and sewer service to serve Woolmarket residents and help meet the demands of future growth.

Holloway met with leaders from Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta last week to receive federal authority to use $1 million in grant funds toward a $2.2 million project to extend water and sewer services a mile north of Interstate 10.

The city last year completed installation of an elevated water tank off Oaklawn Road and introduced city water service to residents and new businesses on Oaklawn south of Interstate 10, and months ago completed a half-million project to install a water well just north of the interstate.

In fact, City Engineer Damon Torricelli said, the city had completed sewer design plans and received approvals from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Transportation to install sewer lines along Highway 67, and was in the process of approaching City Council members to cover a funding shortfall when Hurricane Katrina struck.

“With everything we were dealing with in the wake of the storm, the permits expired, and now we’re having to re-submit to DEQ and MDOT,” Torricelli said. “But now we’re taking things a step further, and instead of just installing sewer, we’re going to use federal funds the mayor was able to acquire to also install water service at the same time.”

Once permits are obtained – from DEQ and MDOT, and a third permit, from the state Department of Health for the new water lines – the city could begin construction within 60 days.

Sewer service would be installed to residents and businesses as far as a mile north of I-10. Water service would be extended nearly a mile, to Woolmarket Road and include the Shortcut Road area, Torricelli said, “which would use every bit of the $2.2 million we have.”

The mayor said he is aware of the importance of providing water and sewer service in the community.

“The city has not been sitting on its hands since Woolmarket became part of Biloxi several years ago,” Holloway said. “We realize that the addition of city-quality services such as water and sewer service is vital to the growth of the area.

“However, the issue of installing water and sewer service in an area where no previous service or suitable treatment plant ever existed is a time-consuming task, which is obvious by the time it has taken to date. But the fact is, more progress has been made in the past several years than at any other time in the history of Woolmarket. Last year, the city installed a million-gallon elevated water tank as one of the first steps in bringing water service to the area.”

As part of that project. Holloway said, the city installed water service and fire hydrants in the area of Oaklawn, south of I-10. “As a result of that work,” Holloway added, “we have permitted several developments on Oaklawn, including one employing an automatic sprinkler system that is possible only because of the water service the city has provided.”

Enhanced fire protection, the mayor added, is another consideration driving the water work. “We have essentially three fire stations serving the Woolmarket community and each is manned by four firefighters 24 hours a day,” Holloway said. “This gives Woolmarket residents a sense of security, and, more importantly, lower fire insurance rates.”