HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - It did not come without debate, but the Hattiesburg City Council voted Tuesday to authorize the mayor to continue conversations with engineering firm Neel-Schaeffer in the search for a land application system to treat and dispose the city's waste water.
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree said he asked City Clerk Kermas Eaton to remove the item from the agenda prior to Tuesday's meeting, but Clerk of Council Debbie Bernardo said she told Eaton the council would have to vote on its removal.
The council did not make a motion to remove the item and instead voted 3-1 (Delgado) to authorize the mayor to execute an agreement with Neel-Schaeffer to provide services for land application. Ward 5 Councilman Henry Naylor was absent.
Neel-Schaeffer's Nathan Husman said this task order was submitted by the mayor and approved by the council several weeks ago, and his firm is moving forward with the search for a land application system, which was the city's original preferred system until a contract was terminated last year with Groundworx, LLC, who would have provided the system.
Husman said information is being gathered about land application systems while the firm is also moving forward with a plan for a mechanical treatment for the city, which the city council voted on several months ago to replace land application.
Husman said the plans and specifications for 30 percent of the mechanical plant will be ready to present to the council at its Aug. 3 work session, but they are still going to miss the September deadline set by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, which will impose fines on the city.
"The next deadline for the consent decree is completion of the design by September 1, and that is not going to be achieved with a mechanical plant," Husman explained.
Husman said the design of the mechanical plant did not begin until April, but Groundworx already had design plans for a land application system, which will be acquired for the city now that the council authorized this agreement.
"We've got to... see what level of completeness they have that at, and what needs to be done in order to meet the milestones of a completely designed land application system and how to move forward with the construction of that," Husman said.
The mayor has 10 days to veto the council's action on this agreement. His communications director said he wanted to remove the agenda item to allow more time to consider the agreement.