Miss. high court settles Jackson water case

Published 1:43 am Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Mississippi Supreme Court ruling will allow a new company to take over the operation of Jackson’s water system.

The court’s decision this week settled a two-year-old bidding controversy in which Jackson Water Partnership was awarded a contract in 2008 instead of New Jersey-based United Water Services, although United Water had the lower bid.

Jackson Water had been running the water and sewage system in Jackson because of two opposite rulings in two lower courts over which company should have the contract.

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The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of United Water.

City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen said the issue will be presented to the city council next week.

Dale Danks, the attorney for Jackson Water, said at this point the company will abide by the Supreme Court’s decision. He said the city likely will meet with two companies to complete a transition plan.

Jackson Water and United Water submitted proposals in the fall of 2008 for the five-year contract. Initially, United Water’s proposal was judged to be the best and cheapest, but then-Mayor Frank Melton ordered negotiations reopened.

Later, the City Council awarded the contract to Jackson Water, a partnership of Pennsylvania-based Severn Trent Services and Jackson-based Garrett Enterprises Inc.

In June, Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger ruled the city gave Jackson Water preferential treatment after United Water offered the lowest bid. He gave the city 30 days to install United Water as the water system’s manager.

Then, Hinds County Chancery Judge Dwayne Thomas issued an injunction preventing the city from terminating its contract with Jackson Water Partnership.