‘It’s terrible’: Jackson business owners fed up with McTyere Avenue sewer overflow

A sign cautions those passing by about a major sewer main overflow near the corner of McTyere...
A sign cautions those passing by about a major sewer main overflow near the corner of McTyere Avenue and Wilson Street.(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:44 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some business owners are questioning whether it’s time for a third-party to take over Jackson’s sewer system, saying they’re fed up with the river of raw sewage running in front of their properties on McTyere Avenue.

For months, a stream of wastewater has been running from a broken manhole to a storm drain in the 100 block near Wilson Street.

Andy Hilton, who owns a rental property directly across the street, says he’s reported the problem multiple times, but to no avail.

“The ticket. We start a service ticket, and it just closes inexplicably,” he said. “We’re just getting no response on any level.”

“I kind of think it should go the way of the city’s water, where a higher authority intercedes. Because this is illegal.”

During WLBT’s visit, raw sewage was pouring out of a broken manhole, running into a nearby gutter and heading into a storm drain. The sewage ran right across the parking lot for D+P Design Build and another business, forcing owners, workers and tenants, to hop over it.

“Last summer, for about three weeks, we had a sewage lagoon right here in the street,” D+P Partner Paul Purser said. “People were driving through it. The road was impassable without going through sewage.”

“That, one day, just disappeared. I don’t know how... We never saw a city truck come by or anything but it just kind of went down,” Purser said. “But it’s always been an issue... Now, it’s just a constant overflow.”

“It’s been that way for a few months.”

Sanitary sewer overflows have been a problem for the city for years. They occur when untreated wastewater leaves the sewer system and enters the environment. Jackson is fined for every SSO that reaches U.S. waterways, like the Pearl River and some of its tributaries.

Approximately 95 sewer overflows were ongoing between July 1, 2022, and September 26, 2022, according to Jackson’s October 30 quarterly report to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jackson must submit quarterly, annual and semi-annual reports to EPA and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality as part of its sewer consent decree. The city entered into the decree years ago to bring its sewer system into compliance with federal law. A major component of the decree includes repairing SSOs.

The reports show how long the SSOs have been going on, how much waste has been released, and whether or not the problems have been addressed.

SSOs included in the October report show that the overflows released more than 49.8 million gallons of untreated waste into the environment. However, the report did not appear include the overflow on McTyere.

Purser and Hilton say the sewage has made it difficult to find tenants for their properties. “I’ve actually placed one of my employees at this location, just to call the city every single day,” Purser said. “That’s been going on about a month... No response.”

“I think there’s a lot of issues in Jackson and this may just be low on whoever’s priority list. But honestly, it should be higher,” he said. “Any sewage in the streets should be higher than no response.”

Hilton says he’s also worried about the overflow from the public health aspect, citing the number of kids that play in the neighborhood. “I don’t think they play in this. They do ride their bikes through here,” he said. “Surely, they have the good sense not to be playing in that.”

Jason Honer, a superintendent for D+P, had similar concerns. “To know that human feces is coming up out the sewer, man, it’s terrible,” he said. “I have been calling the people for the last three or four weeks about it, and no one’s come over to check it out or anything.”

Like Hilton and Purser, he believes the sewage drives potential business away. “Imagine having to come outside every day. You can’t sit on your porch or anything like that because of the smell,” Honer said. “It’s just an eyesore on the community as well.”

Jackson city officials could not be reached for comment.

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