Utility Authority deals with Dixie

Published 12:55 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

Work is ongoing in the old Dixie Utilities water district to improve services and make them more reliable.

Unfortunately, that work involves some uncertainties, such as the true location of water lines. Hunting for those lines has led to a number of breaks, forcing the district to be on a continuous boil water notice.

Utility Authority engineer Brooks Wallace said the work is replacing old two inch water lines with lines of up to eight and 12 inches in size. However, as they look for the water lines with the track hoe, many of them have been broken, forcing Southwest Water to do point repairs to restore service.

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“If you go out there it looks like a war zone in some places,” Wallace said.

Despite their best guesses about where the lines are located, the lines curve in unexpected ways underground, making it hard to determine where they are, Wallace said. So far about 10 point repairs have had to be made in the area, and the work is only 35 percent complete.

A blanket boil water notice will be in effect in that area until the work is done, said Southwest Water representative Mike Switzer.

Wallace said in order to get reimbursement for the repair work, the Environmental Protection Agency has started asking for more paper work, making his job harder.

“My opinion is somebody is looking for somebody else to do more work,” Wallace said.

The Utility Authority board made a motion to approve payment of the change orders associated with the point repairs, pending DEQ approval.

The stimulus package president Barack Obama signed recently may provide the Pearl River County with additional funds to conduct more water and sewer work. DEQ sent the board an e-mail asking members to submit applications for projects they think the funds would benefit. Wallace suggested the board could apply for money to conduct $4.7 million worth of line work on the Hillsdale sewer system, $4.8 million worth of line and step tank work in the Dixie Utilities area, and $10 million to construct a sewer system in Hide-A-Way Lake. Board president Steve Lawler said those plans are still in the works, and are only part of a wish list.

Since the Pearl River County Utility Authority has a good reputation of getting work done, Lawler thinks applying for the funds would be a good idea. The board approved applying for them.

Litigation is continues with the Dixie Utilities issues that arose shortly after Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, the water and sewer district came under two receiverships, one was the City of Picayune. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the system running, the city backed out and gave it to the Utility Authority. Lawler said the board needs to consider filing a petition to have Dixie Utilities put in the Utility Authority’s name. The board approved board attorney Jeff Holliman to continue representing it in that matter.

In other business the board;

— Approved the board to participate in eight hours of water and sewer training as mandated by House Bill 1227.

— Approved Lawler to sign the second amendment of a site development agreement for North Hill phase V.

The next board meeting will be at 2 p.m. March 19, in the Poplarville city hall.