Drainage issues are an ongoing concern in Tyrrell County.

Published 10:59 pm Monday, June 17, 2013

The Gum Neck Pumping Station is in place to address drainage issues in Tyrrell County.

The Gum Neck Pumping Station is in place to address drainage issues in Tyrrell County.

Drainage issues are an ongoing concern for eastern North Carolina and Tyrrell County continues to deal with them as well.

Official statistics located at http://tyrrell.ces.ncsu.edu note that the county land area is 389.9 sq. miles or 249,555 acres. The USDA Farm Service Agency records indicate that there are 68,400 acres in farm land. The major crops are corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, and Irish potatoes. Agriculture is the largest industry, as well as the largest private employer, in the county.

Joe Landino, an area resident and farmer said drainage has been especially important for Tyrrell County.

“In 1961 when I came here, there was about 20,000 acres of farmland in Tyrrell County. All of Tyrrell is about 250,000 acres. In 1960, it was about ten percent farmland, ninety percent forestland. Now it is probably about seventy-five percent forestland. The land in Tyrrell County is definitely more productive than it was fifty years ago, because of drainage.”

Frank Winslow, County Extension Director for Tyrrell and Washington Counties, explained that drainage issues are not limited to Tyrrell County,

“You need to start looking when you get east of Highway 32, which runs from the Sound Bridge, right on down through Washington County and Beaufort County to Washington. This all has drainage problems.”

Dare County has an estimated ten thousand acres over there under cultivation.

Fairfield is in a drainage district.

“There is a lot of area over there that if it were not for pumps, they would not be able to farm. Some of that land on the south side of 264 between Rose Bay and Sound Quarter used to be farmland and now it is in marsh,” said Winslow.

Tile drainage is a new way to deal with the issue.

“Most of these canals and ditches have the water-control structures. They can put boards back into the water control structures. They can pump water back into the canals and let water go back in through the drain pipes when they need irrigation,” said Winslow.

For the drain tiles to work, the water has got to be able to go somewhere. This is why the pumps are important.

Gum Neck had twenty inches of rain during the time period between late July 2012 and early August 2012. This is why having a system in place to address area drainage is important.