Hattiesburg faces new deadline for wastewater treatment solution

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg has just under one year until they must decide what wastewater treatment option they will use.

"I think we need to find something that meets today, and I think what meets today is going to be good for 15 or 20 years," said council president Kim Bradley in reference to the Environmental Protection Agency's limits on dumping wastewater into the rivers.

The city must let the Mississippi Department on Environmental Quality know what type of facility they will use to meet their agreed order by September 1, 2015. Before then, though, the city will vote whether to enter into a task order with local engineering firm Neel-Schaeffer to oversee the project.

The council was set to vote on that task order at their September 2 meeting, but it was tabled unanimously. As of Wednesday afternoon, the item had not been placed back on the agenda for the September 16 meeting.

The firm's role will last throughout the project's completion and will include preliminary oversight such as process selection, topographic surveys and design-build. But which contractor will have a role in the process is still undecided and could be part of the reason the city has stalled on getting the project moving, despite the extended order.

"The people that came and have talked to the council and have talked to the mayor, that have different processes, we're going to vet those, and that's going to be the way that we do it," Bradley explained of choosing a contractor and solution method.

A mechanical treatment facility has been discussed for Hattiesburg recently, and it was the second choice to the original land application system. Bradley, however, is hesitant to move forward with the mechanical facility because he said the cost is even more than land application.

"The problem was the money, the 142 million dollars," he said. "But to build this mechanical system- 165 million- it may cost less to finance it and those things, it's still a lot of money."

The city's agreed order with MDEQ has a project completion deadline of May 1, 2018- nearly one year longer than the original date.

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