Work on East Canal line continues, city owes authority $300k

Published 4:54 pm Thursday, August 7, 2008

Replacement of the broken man hole on East Canal Street is scheduled to take place this week, maybe.

Pearl River County Utility Authority engineer Brooks Wallace said that while the work is scheduled for this week, it may not take place due to a contractor’s issue with not being awarded all of the projects he bid for. Utility Authority board president Steve Lawler suggested Wallace ask the contractor to notify the board as soon as possible if he plans not to do the work so another contractor can be hired. The board plans to use the next lowest bidder if that is the case.

During Wednesday afternoon’s meeting, the board heard a report of another sewer line collapse on East Canal.

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Repair work completed by the Utility Authority includes replacement of a grinder pump in River Oaks, installation of a sewer tap at U.S. 11 and Carroll Street and replacement of an electrical panel at a Poplarville sewer treatment lift station.

The authority reported a shortfall in cash. One of the causes has been attributed to the City of Picayune owing the authority money from back sewer bills. Wallace said the city owes the Utility Authority about $300,000. The city council has blamed the back bills on a computer software problem.

Natural Capital Development environmental scientist Leah Bray gave the board a run down on storm water management as it pertains to development sites. Trees are expected to be protected during such endeavors and any vegetation that is damaged or removed should be replaced to minimize erosion. Construction entrances should be graveled. Those and other erosion protections should remain after construction and the site should be stabilized, Bray said.

All other permits need to be approved before the board can issue a storm water permit to such developments sites, Bray said. Any clearing activities that relate to farming would have to adhere to the same stormwater regulations.

Developer Mark Gibson and the board came to an agreement where Gibson will install and operate a waste water treatment facility for the Liberty Road Trailer park, which he will fund and maintain. When Utility Authority services are available in that area, the park will connect to Utility Authority services.

A survey of the Old Mill Landing development found three sewer lines that do not meet the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s minimum grade standards. Aaron Harris, the developer’s record engineer, said he discovered the issue and reported it to MDEQ and the Utility Authority. Three of the eight inch lines installed in the development are between four to six inches shy of meeting the grade requirement, Harris said. While the lines will still be capable of using gravity to move the waste water, it will move at about half a foot a second slower than the required minimum.

“No one wants a situation where you have solids and liquids separating,” Harris said.

After some debate, the board asked Harris to contact the developer to find some kind of solution to the problem. Board member Joel Pigott was most concerned about accepting a system known to have issues that will cause problems at a later date.

“Why do we want to have a future problem…?” Pigott said.

Harris called the developer, who offered three solutions. The solutions included putting up a $25,000 surety bond, providing the authority with $5,000 cash to be used at its discretion for future maintenance or replacing the lines.

The board approved a motion to accept the $5,000 cash. The developer still has the option to replace the lines in lieu of the cash.

Poplarville sewer collections were not as much as projected, and the board owes the city about $4,000 for the operation of the system. Lawler said he was aware that there would be a debt, but was told collections would be higher than recently reported. Additionally, the charge to pay one of the staff members, John Hancock, was double what the board was told it would have to pay.

Lawler said he and board member Tommy Breland will check with the city to ensure the collections are correct and that Hancock is being paid the proper amount.

The board went into executive session to discuss some possible pending litigation and a personnel matter.

The possible pending litigation matter dealt with the Health Department giving developers authorization to continue installation of water systems in subdivisions without the Utility Authority’s approval. The board approved setting up a meeting for Tuesday between Lawler and the head of the Health Department to address the situation.

The personnel matter dealt with hiring an administrative clerk. The board approved a motion for Lawler to extend an offer to a potential candidate.

In other business the board;

— Accepted ownership of six emergency generators paid for with a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency grant.

— Authorized payment of a $12,695 annual lease to the Picayune school district for the 16th section land on which the Picayune waste water treatment system is located. Board attorney Jeff Hollimon said it’s a 25-year lease.

The board recessed until 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, at the Picayune city hall when it will deal with some pending matters before its next monthly meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the Poplarville city hall.