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Authority discusses county waste water

The county is in fair shape as far as waste water systems go but there’s still a long way to go before the projected population increase will be provided with sufficient waste and storm water services, the Pearl River County Water Authority learned.

The main problem in the county, and in Mississippi, is that on site sewer systems, or septic tanks, are built in a state with soil incapable of handling them.

“Most of the soil in Mississippi is not conducive of such situations,” said Mike Rester with the Mississippi Health Department referring to the low soil absorption. “In some areas it’s a good situation, while some you have waste water in the ditch,” Rester said.

The main concern lies with the older subdivisions such as Hide-a-Way Lake where on site systems are in tight areas, Rester said.

Picayune Director of Operations Glade Woods expects the county population to grow as about 50,000 new homes are planned to be built in the county leading to an increased demand for water services. A temporary solution the authority could look into would be lagoon systems for the new subdivisions, but would need to go to a centralized system within three to five years, said Jerry Cain director of the Office of Pollution Control. Cain said a major drawback of this method would be the loss of lot space where the lagoon system would be built.

Currently, about 75 percent of the rural population in Pearl River County utilizes on-site systems but that needs to change in a hurry, Rester said.

Authority president Steve Lawler wants to ensure that new construction in the county will follow with proper permit application so things can get better.

“I want to look at this county 15 years down the road and I want to like what I see,” Lawler said.

More training on the specifics of waste water would help the authority be better prepared, Lawler said. Steve Spangler with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said that they will try to find the authority members some more training. Lawler said the authority members did receive some training but it was premature.

One of the plans by the authority includes ensuring that larger new subdivisions utilize sewer systems, said Julia Anderson of the Pearl River County Planning and Development.

Permits such as building, waste water disposal through the health department and storm water management will need to be applied for in the near future, she said. To make the whole process simpler for residents the authority discussed consolidating all the required permits in one office, Anderson said.

Lawler said there was a meeting Tuesday night where their current master plan was presented to the two municipalities for their inspection, approval of the master plan will come at a later date.