HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg is facing a deadline. By summer 2017 the city has to have one of three wastewater treatment alternatives up and running to meet new EPA and MDEQ requirements.
"Really we are racing against the clock," said Hattiesburg Director of Engineering, Bert Kuyrkendall.
Kuyrkendall, says because of new nutrient limits requirements, the city of Hattiesburg has to reduce the nutrients coming out of the lagoons to two milligrams per liter.
"When we say nutrients, we are talking about phosphorus, nitrogen, things that organisms in the receiving waters eat. They like to consume it, but they use up oxygen," said Kuyrkendall.
Kuyrkendall says the city's current lagoon system isn't able to meet these new limits, now it's time to look at other options that can.
"The first option is a mechanical treatment plant, which a lot of cities our size currently have. Basically, it would involve scrapping the entire lagoon system, and building a brand new mechanical treatment plant," said Kuyrkendall.
But every choice has its pros and cons.
"The mechanical plant is the most expensive option, but it also gives you the most predictable results," said Kuyrkendall.
The second option.
"Keeping the lagoons in place, but adding a polishing treatment plant. It would be a lot smaller than a full blown mechanical plant. It would be at the end of the lagoon treatment process, and it would actually reduce those nutrient limits at the very end of the process," said Kuyrkendall.
Kuyrkendall added the polishing treatment is one of the cheaper solutions, but the cons may out weigh the pros.
"It could meet our nutrient limits now, but the limits that the EPA is talking about enforcing in the near future, it would not meet those limits," said Kuyrkendall.
Land application is the final option.
"It involves some pre-treatment in the lagoon. It wouldn't be as big as it is now, and then actually pumping that to a land application site where the final polishing treatment happens with microorganisms in the soil it self," said Kuyrkendall.
The big pro with land application ...zero discharge to the leaf river, which means the city wouldn't have to worry about any future limits from the EPA. The con? It would take a lot of a specific soil.
"A land application site might take two to four thousand acres," said Kuyrkendall.
It's five years until the deadline, but according to Kuyrkendall prep has to start now.
"We are targeting the summer as making a decision about the treatment options, so we can start the design process and start the fund raising process," said Kuyrkendall.
City leaders are asking that citizens actively participate in selecting a plan for waste water treatment. Residents can attend three public sessions to do so:
Monday, June 11 at 6p.m. at the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center on 607 McSwain street.
Thursday, June 14 at 6 p.m. at Danny Hinton Community Center on 225 Tatum Road.
Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church on 2420 Hardy Street.