Hattiesburg not changing plans despite new Lamar County wastewater spray field ordinance

Hattiesburg not changing plans despite new Lamar County wastewater spray field ordinance

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg is still moving forward with plans to build a wastewater spray field in Lamar County despite a new county ordinance about wastewater land application systems.

"Based upon our prior analysis and our prior position, we don't think this changes anything in our approach to this issue," said Keith Turner, the attorney representing Hattiesburg. "We're proceeding forward as we originally intended."

The ordinance, passed by the Lamar County Supervisors Thursday, said sewer land application systems must be limited to 55 acres and must have a 500-foot buffer between the land application system "and a property line not associated with the system."

Hattiesburg's current proposal would use 3,000 acres in the county with some homes only 150 feet from the spray field's perimeter.

"I really don't want to get into the specifics and details in our position on this thing at this stage other than that," Turner said. "We believe we are able to continue to proceed forward."

Hattiesburg City Councilperson Deborah Delgado is opposed to a land application wastewater treatment system, favoring a mechanical system, and hopes this ordinance redirects the city's plan.

"I'm hoping that the city will honor Lamar County's ordinance, and that we will wake up as a city and do a mechanical system, which is what most cities in this country have," Delgado said. "I don't think that we afford an experiment in having a land application project of this size. I don't think we have the ability to manage it."

Delgado was also the only nay in the Hattiesburg City Council's vote to overturn Mayor Johnny DuPree's January veto of a land application system to treat and dispose of the city's wastewater.

Delgado said the city has looked at land in Forrest County to build a wastewater spray field, but said she doesn't think that land will be useful.

"Sites that are in Forrest County, some of that land is in the floodplain, and we just had a flood in Hattiesburg," she said. "How are we going to expect to have maximum absorption in these in our flood? Not a good thing. We have to note that the citizens of Hattiesburg are going to be burdened with the cost of this thing not just for building it, but also maintaining it over a 30-year period. It's not the kind of thing that we should enter into knowing that there is a great possibility of failure."

Turner said, "We're not changing anything on how we're planning on approaching Lamar County properties."