Hattiesburg looks to terminate contract with Groundworx

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - An item on Tuesday's Hattiesburg City Council agenda seeks council approval for the mayor to terminate the contract with Groundworx, which was the chosen company to treat and dispose of the city's wastewater.

Groundworx filed a lawsuit last month after Hattiesburg continuously failed to provide a source of revenue for the 141 million dollar land application project. At that time, council president Kim Bradley said it was discussed between him and the mayor to end the contract with Groundworx and seek another option.

"I do believe that the zero-discharge system was the best solution for the city, but we have a timeline to meet," said Bradley on Thursday.

He is referencing the agreed order the city is in with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which states that the city must have a functioning system to properly dispose of wastewater by 2017.

"Just the fact that we terminate the contract in no way voids our responsibility to Groundworx for what we owe them," said Bradley.

Groundworx attorney Andy Taggart estimated last month that the minimum payment from the city would be six million dollars. If the city were to terminate the contract, which is highly likely at this point, Taggart said the city would be responsible in making Groundworx whole for the "very significant" investment it has already made, totaling to several million dollars.

Taggart said Thursday that a motion was filed this week for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. If granted, that motion would prohibit the city from canceling the contract.

However, should the council approve the contract termination, they would start at square one to find a way to properly dispose of the wastewater- likely, a mechanical system.

A judge will hear the filed motion on Tuesday morning. Mayor DuPree was unavailable for comment on these issues.

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