CARROLL COUNTY — Carroll County has more flood-retarding dams than any county in Mississippi — about 120.
The lakes that were created are used for recreation and are places of scenic beauty.
They were also built in a flood control plan that helps not just the Carroll County area but also the Mississippi Delta. Some of them were built 50 years ago.
County Supervisor Terry Herbert tells the Greenwood Commonwealth they have been maintained only slightly since they were built.
“Twenty-three of them are considered ‘high hazard,’ that is, life could be lost if they were breached. The government required a local entity to levy a tax for their maintenance, and they formed the drainage districts. But they don’t have the money to maintain them.
“The tax is levied only on the property directly affected by the dam,” Herbert said.
Herbert has sent a letter on behalf of the county asking state and federal officials to take notice of the condition of the dams and the potential for disaster if there were a breach.
“Many of the dams were built in the 1960s, with a life expectancy of 50 years,” the letter states. “Approximately 20 of the dams have occupied homes immediately downstream. Some have Mississippi state highways in their paths, along with county roads and utilities.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the dams. The dams help protect the Delta, as 70 percent of the rain runoff draining from Carroll County to the Delta flows through these structures.
Besides having trees, weeds and bushes growing on them, which should not be allowed, Herbert said, the lake owners often tamper with the principal spillways, adjusting the lake water up or down for recreational use.
Herbert said the drainage districts don’t have the funds with the small amount they receive in taxes and neither does Carroll County.
“Anytime you have trees on them, it restricts the functions of water flow. If the water undermined the chute, the levee would go.
“The easiest thing is to continue to ignore the situation, but that’s not the best thing to do for the safety of our citizens,” Herbert said. “These dams can be rehabbed, but it will take some money. We need help here.”