UA hears proposal from local land owner

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, October 20, 2012

A local land owner presented a proposition to the Pearl River County Utility Authority during its meeting Thursday afternoon.

Al Walker said he has a patch of land on Liberty Road that comes with a free-flowing artesian spring, and he wants to sell the property to the Utility Authority, with a small stipulation. Walker said if the Utility Authority chooses to buy the land, at a price of $150,000, he wants to retain 30 percent ownership of the water that is sold.

None of the board members of the Utility Authority jumped at the offer. Instead, they unanimously agreed to take his offer under advisement.

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In other business, the board heard an update about projected work to take place in the utility district formerly known as Dixie Utilities. Utility Authority Engineer Brooks Wallace said the project will install new water mains in all of the areas in the district not covered in the first phase. The roads along which the mains will be located will include, but are not limited to, Eagle Heights, Otis Stewart, parts of Liberty Road and Westchester. Not only will the work provide all new water mains, but new fire hydrants and new water meters as well.

Executive Director Jeff McClain asked Wallace to ensure that after crews begin the work in an area, the work is finished there before moving to a new area.

Construction of a new pump station on U.S. Highway 11 near a mini storage is nearing completion. Wallace expects the by-pass pump currently being used there will no longer be needed, and that the new pump station to come online early next week.

The board discussed the need for a loan to rehabilitate Picayune’s aging sewer lines. Wallace estimates that for about $6 million the Utility Authority can rehabilitate the entire system, which will not only save money for the Utility Authority in repair and maintenance costs of aging lines, but will protect the new systems recently installed. The holes in the lines are allowing sand to infiltrate the sewage system in Picayune. The sand has to be removed from the system at an added expense.

Annexation of new land by Picayune, specifically the property at Exit 10 in Carriere, poses a question for how to provide sewer services. Wallace expects that area to grow now that it is in the city limits, and as per state law, public entities have five years to provide newly annexed areas with access to infrastructure such as sewer service. That area is in the Pearl River Central water certificated area, so the Utility Authority would not need to be concerned about providing water.

However, Wallace said to install sewer service in that area would require installation of a new treatment plant, since bringing that sewage back to the new treatment plant on Neal Road would not be feasible.

Work to install sewer collection infrastructure in Hide-A-Way Lake is nearing completion. A total of 246 septic tanks will be decommissioned as part of the second phase of installing grinder pumps at most of the homes in the subdivision, Wallace said. The process involves removing the top of the septic tank, filling it with sand and then covering the tank with sand and sod.

The two-phase project added 814 sewage connections and grinder pumps to the more than 900 homes in the gated community, said engineer Jeremy Lenoir.

The next scheduled meeting of the Utility Authority board will be Nov. 15, at  2 p.m. at Poplarville’s city hall.