Governments council talks with utility authority about progress

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Pearl River County United Governmental Council met Tuesday night to discuss where the Pearl River County Utility Authority was going and what kind of changes the county can expect for water and waste water.

The authority drafted a document containing some new rules and regulations with research done on other counties practices, Utility Authority president Steve Lawler said. That document is available for public review at libraries and city halls.

Changes are coming when the Utility Authority begins to enforce their rules and regulations. Those changes will include new permit fees and certifications for sewer and septic tanks. Those initial permit fees will be about $500 for each new residence built in the county and for each existing home in a subdivision of 10 houses or more said Utility Authority attorney Mike Caples.

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Comments from county residents are requested since several members in the council have noticed that the only time they hear residents’ concerns is after a resident is affected directly, not during the initiation process, said Danny Wise, United Governmental Council member and a county supervisor.

“I can ensure you that we are more than willing to listen to those concerns and if we can refine this document we will,” Lawler said.

There will be a public education program on how the authority will work at 4 p.m. Monday at the Pearl River Community College Technology Center for residents involved in real estate such as bankers and developers, Lawler said. Tuesday night a meeting will be held to cover the same ground with local utility providers, water associations and the two municipalities officials.

When the rules and regulations are implemented, the Utility Authority plans to use county and city inspectors to perform water and waste water inspections, Caples said. The authority would like for the two cites to use the authority’s rules and regulations so when annexation by city takes place, no upgrades will be needed, Caples said,

If the two cities would like to continue to provide water and sewer, they can but would be asked to submit periodic reports of the number of permits issued and water capacity used, Caples said. The water capacity report will help identify needs as they approach 80 percent capacity so water capacity can be upgraded to compensate for growth, Caples said.

“We don’t want to end up in a situation like Poplarville,” Caples said.

A small inspection fee will be attached by the authority and collected by the city separately so it can be sent to the authority, Caples said. The county will continue to review drainage and lot sizes, but water and waste water issues will come to authority, Caples said.

“Really it’s taking work off the county engineer and distributing it to the authority,” Caples said.

The authority is looking at establishing a permit fee, $500, which will apply to every house built after adoption of the rules and regulations, Caples said. The fee is not an impact fee, it is an estimate of how much running the administrative side and how much issuing the permits will cost the authority, Caples said.

“We are only covering that which we believe to be the operating costs of the authority,” Caples said.

Homes utilizing septic tanks will need to meet established maintenance requirements and will need to be inspected by a licensed inspector on a regular basis, Caples said. The same permit fee for septic tanks will apply as well, Caples said.

Right now the authority will allow septic tanks already in ground to be grandfathered in, unless the owner sells the house then the septic tank will need to be certified stating that it is working properly, Caples said. Also any existing house in a subdivision with 10 lots or more will have one year to be certified that the existing system works correctly, Caples said. The subdivision regulation ensures that if the tanks are failing they can be repaired so as not to pose a health issue, Caples said.

Lawler said the county has a high percentage of tanks that are failing because they are not maintained.

The next public meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2, at Picayune City Hall.