HAHIRA -- Stagnant water sits in the ditches along Val Del Road. Beside the Val Del Mobile Home Park is a pond that nearby resident Lorena Clyatt says is causing her 150 acres to the west to become saturated land.

Since October, Clyatt said she has been asking Lowndes County officials for assistance. But after a heavy hurricane season that was followed by steady rain activity, county manager Joe Pritchard said the groundwater in Lowndes County remains at high levels throughout the area.

"We've got issues with water everywhere around the county right now with the rain we've had," Pritchard said. "For a number of years the water table has been fairly low; now we've got areas that are rising."

Clyatt said the source of her problem began in the 1990s when the county approved the expansion of a pond to the west of her property along Val Del Road.

According to Clyatt, the pond is preventing water from flowing east because it lacks an overflow pipe. As a result, Clyatt said, water is backed up at her property causing parts of her property to be too flooded to drive through.

"I cannot live with this," Clyatt said. "It makes me sad because all we want is for the water to go back where it came from. If a problem on your property is coming from someone else's property, there needs to be a solution."

Bob Gardner, county construction manager, said Lowndes County has no responsibility to provide drainage for private properties.

"Our cross-drainage system is designed for the purpose of protecting our county roads and infrastructure," Gardner said. "Our ditches and cross pipes on that entire area of Val Del Road are operating."

Beneath Val Del Road are three 30-inch pipes that provide drainage leading to the pond. Clyatt said the pipes are about one-fourth full of sand and debris, causing the water to be blocked from flowing east.

"We need to open this open and let it flow to the river," Clyatt said. "The county's been out here three times to put a Band-Aid on a problem."

In the mid 1960s, Clyatt's father, Luther, and family friend Tom Kelly donated dirt for the paving of Val Del Road that later led to the installation of the three pipes beneath the former dirt road.

"We have paid our dues to help design and build this," Clyatt said.

Gardner said the county has recently been out there to clear the pipes that were clogged with a beaver dam.

"Those pipes are open and clean and conveying that water effectively without any impediment," Gardner said. "Something that may have been a problem for Ms. Clyatt was those beaver dams."

Gardner said the county tore down and removed three beaver dams that were built across the pipes. Gardner added that the high water levels on Clyatt's property are not due to the pond.

"It's definitely not from that pond, I can say that categorically," Clyatt said. "It's likely from the high groundwater. I did look at that pond (Thursday), and there's nothing out of the ordinary about it."

However, Clyatt said that installing an overflow pipe on the pond would allow the water to move more freely toward the east and eventually drain into the Withlacoochee River.

"I needed help seven months ago; you would think by now the water would already be at the ocean," Clyatt said. "We need an overflow pipe to make that water go east."

"While I'm very sympathetic to Ms. Clyatt's condition, there's nothing anyone has done to cause the water to rise," Gardner said. "The roads and ditches are in standing water; it's higher than it's been. There's nothing controlling this other than the high level of our groundwater that's a direct result of our rainwater we've received. There's flooding in hundreds of yards in areas around the county that ordinarily wouldn't be."

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