Utility Authority gears up for new well in Poplarville

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, January 4, 2007

Water issues in Poplarville that have been compounded since Hurricane Katrina will be addressed after a grant is applied for and a new well and holding tank are installed, about a year and a half from now.

The City of Poplarville has been in need of additional water since before the storm, and now, with the increase in population and water and sewer usage, the small town is at full capacity.

A discussion Tuesday evening included the addition of the new well and storage tank for the City of Poplarville. After a multi-step process of applying for emergency funds for the well and tank, the authority should be able to get about $2 million to install the new well and tank from the state -wide emergency fund of $25 million, said, Waggoner Engineering senior planner. The location and design have not been worked out yet, but the process needs to be started, especially in light of recent events.

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“As ya’ll saw with the fire last week, they could have used the additional fire flow,” Don Walker said.

Walker, owner and operator of Walker Associates Engineers in Hattiesburg, said his firm installed the most recent well in Poplarville two years ago. Authority member Ike Lewis asked if it would take about a year and a half to get the well and tank installed.

The answer was hard to nail down since the grant application process and planning and securing of land for the well would need to be worked out, though Catt agreed it may take that long.

Caples said the authority will try to speed the process up but the process is not entirely internal.

“There are people who have to approve this that are out of our control,” Caples said.

Another question was if the well would be able to accommodate residents outside the area. Lawler said the idea is to install a well that would accommodate growth in the area of Poplarville, including the outlying areas.

“The main point of this project is to get the City of Poplarville water,” Lawler said.

Those with questions or concerns about the well to be installed in Poplarville can send them in writing to Dungan Engineering at P.O. Box 699, Picayune MS, 39466.

The irrigation of a large sod farm in the north end of the county was discussed briefly. Caples said he called the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Land and Water Resources and discussed the matter. The problem was there was no permit applied for from the Utility Authority to install the four additional wells for the sod farm. Authority rules and regulations state that any well larger than two inches must be approved by the authority and meet its rules and regulations. Caples claimed his call and objection has pushed the public comment period back to Jan. 9, though the legal notice about the wells gave Jan. 9 as the date the authority would meet and consider its permit for the project.

The authority approved having the president sign a letter to MDEQ on the matter.

The Utility Authority received its first funding of $25,000, then approved a partial payment to Butler and Snow for legal services. That partial payment was for $15,000, leaving the authority with about $10,000 to work with until fees start to come in, said authority president Steve Lawler.

Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering said soon the authority will collect fees from nine construction plans of about 700 lots. Those fees should generate about $36,000.

Wallace also brought up the commercial building on Miss. 43 N. that was discussed at the board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday. The owner of the building wants to expand it but the area has no community water or sewer and instead uses a well and septic tank on one acre of land. County regulations passed in 1998 state that three acres are needed for such a set up. The subbuilding was approved by the board in 1998, so Lawler speculated the board at that time must have made its own exception. Board president Bettye Stockstill asked the authority if it could make an exception.

Lawler said if the authority makes exceptions now, it would never stop.

“We want to be mindful of the residents, but if we make exceptions to the rules we might as well throw the rule book out the window,” Lawler said. “You’re going to get in trouble the more exceptions you make to the rules.”

Wallace presented three subdivision preliminary plats for the authority review, Brecken Ridge, Highpoint and Grago. Wallace said Brecken Ridge is in an area being considered for annexation by the City of Picayune. Currently, the subdivision is in the county so its developers have to apply for permits with the Utility Authority, he said. The plats for all three subdivisions were approved.

The authority went in to executive session on a personnel matter with no action taken.

In other business the authority;

— Approved a resolution with the City of Poplarville that the city will adhere to the same rules and regulations the authority has set forth so they can continue their water and sewer operations. The resolution will be submitted to the City of Poplarville for its review.

— Approved a standard of conduct for authority members to prevent conflicts of interest with the Federal grant money for which they are applying.

— Authorized president and vice president to execute the necessary requirements for the Community Development Block Grant for Poplarville’s new well and storage tank.

The Authority will have a short open meeting at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 19, at the Williams Avenue Bank Plus location to further discuss the grant application for the Poplarville well and storage tank.