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Work on Hatchie River restores flow
by Jebb Johnston
Aug 02, 2013 | 267 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Hatchie River is flowing again after workers unplugged two major drifts that caused flooding along the river.

The Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District just completed cleanup of the two drifts that had brought the water to a standstill.

“The tributaries — Brush Creek and Bridge Creek — instead of flowing into the Hatchie, they were flowing backwards, going out on the landowners,” said Joe Duncan, who serves on the board of the Hatchie Drainage District.

Logs had fallen into the river, and drifts formed.

“One of them was right at the forks of Hatchie and one was just a little bit below the forks of Hatchie, where the Little Hatchie and the Big Hatchie come together,” he said.

“One was about a 1,300-foot drift. It had everything from every beer bottle and every chunk that had fallen off into the Hatchie River and also an old refrigerator.”

Landowners faced standing water on their property. For Nicky Grimes, it meant a loss of thousands of dollars in hardwood timber.

“We’re some happy people down there to get some drainage moving,” he said. As it was, “it’s just a dead weight for yourself to carry the taxes on.”

Other landowners also had substantial losses.

The Hatchie flows north from Mississippi into southwest Tennessee, where it ultimately empties into the Mississippi River. Part of the challenge for those who want to keep it flowing in northeast Mississippi is the flatness of the land.

“It is so flat that it doesn’t take anything to stop that river up,” said Duncan. “When one hunter cuts a tree or a tree falls in, that’s the beginning of a drift right there. So we’re going to try to do a little better job of policing it on down the line.”

The Hatchie Drainage District is the oldest continuously operating drainage district in the county, and the river’s steady flow helps the situation in the city.

“It’s a big player in the drainage business around here,” said Duncan. “It’s one of the only things that runs north.”

Milton Sandy, commissioner with the Bridge, Phillips and Elam Concurrent Drainage Districts, said these are all pieces of the same puzzle.

“It’s all related,” he said. “We live in a swamp. Unless we keep it drained, everybody in this county wins or loses from the results of not keeping the waterways clear.”

Duncan, along with Soil & Water Conservation District Clerk Sandy Mitchell and the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors, hosted lunch for the Tombigbee crew and landowners who allowed work on their land on Thursday at the Mississippi State University Extension Center.
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