Hattiesburg breaks down cost, impact of changing wastewater syst - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg breaks down cost, impact of changing wastewater systems

The mechanical system will be located at the city’s lagoon. Source: WDAM The mechanical system will be located at the city’s lagoon. Source: WDAM
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Hattiesburg is explaining the cost for residents for the city to switch from a land application wastewater treatment system to a mechanical one.

The Hattiesburg City Council voted Tuesday to abandon all efforts to build a wastewater spray field and instead move forward to complete plans to build a mechanical system to treat the city's wastewater, but the city said it is not changing its plan to increase water and sewer rates. The council originally approved the rate hike to pay for the land application system, but said higher rates are still needed to fund this project.

"The engineers have said this all along, regardless of what you choose, you're looking at $120 to $140 million roughly for either system, and those require rate increases," said Keith Turner, attorney for Hattiesburg's wastewater litigation.

Hattiesburg resident Paula Carson said she noticed a major jump in her most recent bill.

"The water bill, they say they doubled," Carson said. "Mine's jumped from $97 to $205. I'm disabled. My mom is disabled, and we've got to pay around the clock to get these bills paid. This bill really stung me. I can't believe the city is doing this."

Turner said it is common in cities across the country.

"The entire country, cities similar to Hattiesburg around the country are struggling with this exact same difficulty, which is how do we pay for wastewater treatment that is being mandated that it be implemented by both federal and state requirements?" Turner said.  "It's a lot of challenges."

One of the challenges is meeting completion deadlines set by state and federal agencies. Hattiesburg missed a May 1, 2016, construction deadline set by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which comes with a $1,500 per day fine.

MDEQ said it has not billed Hattiesburg for that fine yet, but Carson said she does not think she should be funding a project before plans are solidified.

"If they (haven't) found (a) place for it, why are they charging us already?" she asked. "I really don't like how the city is doing disabled people and people with low income."

Turner said the city also will not meet the mandated 2018 completion deadline, which has a $2,000 per day fine, because the treatment plans keep changing.

"We're going to be having a conversation with DEQ and with GRN (Gulf Restoration Network) because they're involved in that litigation also about revising scheduling," Turner said. "Obviously, it has to be considered because it doesn't matter what we do at this point, we're not going to be able to make the 2018 deadline. So we're going to have to revisit that. So we're going to be asking for some consideration to allow us to revise that schedule and not have penalties begin in 2018."

As for what the change of treatment system means for an appeal filed by Groundworx to the Mississippi Supreme Court after a judge ruled the company's contract unconstitutional, Turner said he is not representing the city in that matter, but does expect the city's change will spur some movement.

"We've asked Groundworx and they agreed, (so) it's been on hold," Turner said. "There's been a stay up there for all this period of time. I would assume, I don't know for sure, but I would assume that stay will be lifted now in the next week, few weeks or month." 

Copyright WDAM 2016. All rights reserved.

  • Local NewsLOCALMore>>

  • Jones County escapee turns himself in

    Jones County escapee turns himself in

    Sunday, August 13 2017 2:41 PM EDT2017-08-13 18:41:00 GMT

    A Jones County escapee is back in custody after walking off a work detail Thursday. 

    More >>

    A Jones County escapee is back in custody after walking off a work detail Thursday. 

    More >>
  • Kittrell, Wayne Academy looking to gain more attention

    Kittrell, Wayne Academy looking to gain more attention

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 10:44 PM EDT2017-08-17 02:44:25 GMT
    Markus KittrellMarkus Kittrell
    Markus Kittrell is well aware when people speak of Wayne County football, the assumption is the conversation will be of the public school War Eagles. Kitrell and his teammates would like to change that a bit this fall. “When you say Wayne County, everybody knows Wayne County High School, but it’s time for us to put it out there about Wayne Academy, where everybody will know about us,” said Kittrell, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound, two-way lineman for the Jaguars. Wayne Aca...More >>
    Markus Kittrell is well aware when people speak of Wayne County football, the assumption is the conversation will be of the public school War Eagles. Kitrell and his teammates would like to change that a bit this fall. “When you say Wayne County, everybody knows Wayne County High School, but it’s time for us to put it out there about Wayne Academy, where everybody will know about us,” said Kittrell, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound, two-way lineman for the Jaguars. Wayne Aca...More >>
  • PCS, West Marion to square off in season-opening rematch

    PCS, West Marion to square off in season-opening rematch

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 10:01 PM EDT2017-08-17 02:01:27 GMT
    Source: WDAMSource: WDAM
    For a second consecutive football season, West Marion High School and Presbyterian Christian School will square off in the season-opening game for each school. But neither team knows quite what to expect from not only the team across the field but the one arrayed along its own sideline. PCS welcomes West Marion at 7 p.m. Thursday, one of two area prep games set a day before a near full, inaugural slate of high school games. Stringer High School will visit Bay Springs High Schoo...More >>
    For a second consecutive football season, West Marion High School and Presbyterian Christian School will square off in the season-opening game for each school. But neither team knows quite what to expect from not only the team across the field but the one arrayed along its own sideline. PCS welcomes West Marion at 7 p.m. Thursday, one of two area prep games set a day before a near full, inaugural slate of high school games. Stringer High School will visit Bay Springs High Schoo...More >>
Powered by Frankly