Out of options on what to do with 400,000 cubic yards of bad dirt from a lake dig near Camden, Madison County supervisors on Monday decided to get rid of the sand the old-fashioned way, by declaring it surplus and spreading it out among adjacent landowners - but only if the landowners accept a fee.

What began as a $1.5 million lake project has quickly become a $2.2 million lake project and rising.

Trucking the sand doesn't seem to be an option, supervisors said. The cost of moving only 76,000 cubic yards of dirt to a county site near Madison is estimated to cost $343,000.

So willing landowners with property adjacent to the Sulphur Springs Park project may soon be paid a fee to permanently house the sand.

The excess sand was dug out to create an 18-acre lake that will still have to have clay brought in to seal the bottom.

Supervisors voted 4-1 on Monday to approve Board Attorney Mike Espy's suggestion to compensate willing landowners for taking the sand - in sand.

District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen voted against the measure, saying he thought the sand had value to it. He wanted to explore other options before essentially giving it away.

"I'm not sure the dirt is not usable," he said.

Espy told supervisors of a "crisis" currently under way at the park development, due to the excess sand still on-site that runs off into the lake when it rains.

"I'm told the debris of dirt is slipping off back to the excavation site," Espy said. "It has become a problem."

He called the sediment "more like sugar sand," which can't be used by the road department for road fill.

Espy said the cost of transporting it to any county-owned site would be cost-prohibitive, and pointed out that, per state law, the county is unable to donate it.

He recommended they declare the sand as surplus in order to reduce its value, then negotiate a storage fee with local landowners so they can commence with the removal.

"We have to move it," he said. "We can't keep it there. It costs too much to move it to county-owned lands."

County Engineer Rudy Warnock estimated the cost of moving 76,000 cubic yards of dirt to a Madison County Economic Development Agency-owned site on Parkway East at $343,000.

That would put the project dangerously close to exceeding it's original budget under an urban renewal-district bond the county issued for $1.5 million to kick-start the project in 2013. The county also kicked in $770,000 for roads and infrastructure. Records show more than $1 million of the original $1.5 million bond has already been spent, including a $540,000 payment to Warnock and a $262,000 payment to project contractor Goodloe Construction.

Workers have already cleared the land, excavated the lake and built two piers worth more than $80,000. But with much work remaining and approximately $466,000 left in the bank, a $300,000-plus sand removal is almost certainly out of the question.

But Board President Karl Banks said he believes the project will finish, on-time and under-budget, despite the sandy setback. His questions over his concerns, he said, have all been answered - includiang whether or not a lake built in sand would hold water.

"That was a question I asked," he said. "I know what I expect [them] to do. Put all the clay they can find in the bottom of the lake to seal it off."

Banks said the lake and dam should be completed before December, with the park opening sometime in 2015. He said involving county road manager Lawrence Morris more into the mix will speed up work and alleviate future problems.

As far as the budget for the project is concerned, he didn't seem concerned that nearly half of the total funds budgeted for the project have already been spent.

"I know we haven't gotten to a point where anybody came to me and said we're gonna end up having to do an amended budget," he said. "I haven't heard that yet and I'm hoping I don't ever hear that."