Utility Authority changes some of its rules

Published 12:05 am Sunday, January 21, 2007

Unique situations require more than standard rules and regulations and the Pearl River County Utility Authority has taken that into consideration.

After running into situations that could not be categorized into wide-ranging descriptions, the authority has changed its rules so more residents can install stand alone waste systems, provided they meet all the percolation-test and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality standards.

“We all said when this first started we were going to have to go through some growing pains,” said authority attorney Mike Caples.

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Some of the changes apply to areas in the county that do not have access to public water systems, where the water is provided by an individual well. In instances such as this, an Individual On-stage Wastewater Disposal System, or septic tank, can be used but certain conditions need to be met first. In subdivisions with less than five lots, the septic tank can be installed on two acre lots. Subdivisions with between five to 10 lots will need three acres and those with more than 10 lots will need lots of five acres or more.

If public water is available and the home receives that service, in subdivisions with less than 10 lots a septic tank can be installed on one acre, in subdivisions with two or more lots five acres will be needed, the rules state.

In all instances, acreage included in the lot size can not include any wetlands, streams, lakes or other bodies of water or areas subject to flooding. All lots also must be inspected by the Mississippi Department of Health and meet their requirements, the rules state.

In instances where a lot has less than the required acreage, a septic tank may be installed after submitting a valid percolation test. Those tests must be conducted by individuals registered with the Department of Health or the Authority, the rules state.

Commercial developments that have no other alternative than a septic tank can install one after submitting a percolation test conducted in accordance with the newly drafted Septic Tank/Absorption Field Systems Manual.

“They actually need to go out there and prove the ground will perc,” Caples said.

All systems will still need to be monitored for proper operation on a regular basis.

Authority member Don Durham said the rules have been loosened to help out small developers. The changes also will eliminate any feelings of political agendas or favoritism in the instances of approval or disapproval. The new rules also give single families an opportunity to prove their section of land will be conducive for septic tank use.

The authority approved the rule changes and the Septic Tank/Absorption Field Systems Manual. The authority also approved publishing the new rules and regulations.

Since the Building Codes division in the county is collecting fees for the authority, it is asking for five percent of the fees, said Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering. The proposal has been submitted to the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors but no action has been taken on it, Wallace said. The authority approved the proposal, provided it comes back to them signed by the board and approved for the authority’s president to sign it when it comes back.

To apply for a permit, a resident must go to the 911 addressing office where verification forms need to be filed. The 911 addressing office will send those forms to the authority which will check the size requirements. If the application is approved by the authority, the resident is instructed to contact the health department, which will do the testing, Wallace said. So far, 20 to 30 fees have been collected in January 2007, Wallace said.

In other business the authority;

— Approved forwarding a proposal of Butler and Snow to handle legal services, Sample and Associates to handle administration services and Dungan Engineering to handle engineering services to MDEQ concerning service contracts for future Housing and Urban Development grants.

— Approved for Wallace to find financial software that is compatible with the software of surrounding counties and propose a Request for Qualifications.

The next meeting of the authority will be Feb. 5 at the historic City Hall in Picayune at 6 p.m.