Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson on Tuesday approved a $33 million program that will ultimately bring central sewer and water service to six coastal counties in Mississippi.

Funded through $5 billion that HUD previously awarded the state through the Department’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, Mississippi intends to lay the groundwork for a larger Gulf Coast Regional Infrastructure Program to meet the anticipated demand of families expected to move further inland in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to a press statement.

Mississippi will initially devote $6.5 million to develop a master plan and another $25 million to meet critical needs until the state launches its larger program to build central sewer and water systems in Pearl River, Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.

In the aftermath of Katrina, many coastal areas in southern Mississippi were without basic services such as potable water and wastewater. State officials expect many Mississippians will relocate to areas within the six-county coastal area that is not prone to flooding and other storm-related damage. Currently, this area does not have adequate water, wastewater and storm drainage infrastructure.

“Mississippi families will need something more than wells and septic tanks,” said Jackson, in a statement. “The plan HUD is approving today will be a first investment in developing long-term sewer, water and storm drain systems in these Mississippi counties.”

In addition, Mississippi will create a $25 million emergency fund to address immediate and critical infrastructure needs determined by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). To read the full text of Mississippi’s plan, visit www.mississippi.org/content.aspx?url=/page/3288&.

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