HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council voted 4-1 Friday in a special-called meeting to choose land application as its method to treat and dispose of its waste water.
The city had been on a dual track, considering both land application and mechanical systems, for several months, after the council authorized the mayor to terminate a contract in 2014 with the company Groundworx for its land application plans.
"At the end of the day, this is the best thing for the citizens of Hattiesburg," City Council President Kim Bradley said of the vote to pursue a land application system.
During the council's back and forth between mechanical and land application, deadlines were missed under an agreed order with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Most recently, the city was being fined $1,500 each day for missing a September deadline to submit design plans. Bradley said Friday's voted ended those fines, and the resolution passed would allow the city to buy the plans from Groundworx in order to move forward with the project.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden said the city's decision to end the original land application route afforded constituents more time to participate in the decision-making process.
"I think it was only fair to give the public at large the opportunity to bring forward any solutions that the public came up with," she said. "To me, time is never wasted."
Dryden and Bradley both said water and sewer rates would likely go up for Hattiesburg residents in order to pay for some of the land application system, but they said the increase would not be as much as originally anticipated.
"They will be nowhere near what we were talking about before," Bradley said.
The council members also said waiting to choose land application now saved the city money, as interest rates are lower now for bonds the city will depend on to pay for the project.
"When you look at the life cost of this project, the financing costs, doing it the way we were going to do it a year or so ago was so much greater," Bradley said.
Bradley said he expected the city to miss other deadlines with MDEQ; however, he said the city would meet the final completion deadline in 2018.