A study from 2011, which studied ammonia removal, projected a $170 million project cost, according to engineer Nathan Husman of Neel-Schaffer. However, Husman said, due to strict guidelines by the Mississippi Department on Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to treat and remove more than just ammonia, the cost could be even higher.
"We are now looking at additional treatment that's required to meet these new MDEQ permit limits, and that will be in addition to some of those budgetary costs," Husman explained. "We are doing everything we can to get those costs down."
Councilwomen Deborah Delgado (Ward 2) and Mary Dryden (Ward 4) each expressed concern with the project cost, which Husman said would bring an expected "unhappiness" to the council.
"The projection that you're giving is so much more," Dryden said in Tuesday's city council meeting, referring to the approximately $142 million contract with Groundworx, LLC for a land application system that was approved by the council before the members terminated the contract.
Neel-Schaffer considered 17 applications before making a "short list" of four processes and companies, all of which are mechanical treatment facilities.
A report from the engineering firm was distributed to the mayor and council members Tuesday on the remaining four options, and Husman said construction cost estimates, as well as operating costs, would be decided in the next 30-45 days to bring back before the council for their approval of one process to base the design upon.