Pearl River County Utility Authority approves sewer work

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pearl River County’s Utility Authority accepted the lowest bid to conduct more than $4 million in rehabilitative work to Picayune’s aging wastewater collection system.

While the city received a new wastewater treatment facility less than five years ago, it’s the sewer lines that have been left out of the rehabilitation loop.

Utility Authority engineer Vernon Moore said the lines were installed in the 50s and 60s.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Tuesday, the board approved a motion to award a bid to start work that will examine the lines via camera and smoke and then clean and coat the existing lines in the city. The lowest bidder was Suncoast Infrastructure Inc., who bid the job for $4,079,500. Moore said the highest bid came in at about $16 million.

During the meeting it was stated that the board could potentially borrow about $5.2 million, leaving a surplus that could be used to conduct work on more than lines than the project planned.

“The more pipe we can line and rehabilitate in Picayune, we ought to,” board president Steve Lawler said.

Moore said of the city’s 350,000 feet of gravity fed sewer line, about 190,000 feet are outlined for rehabilitation in this project. While that is about half of the city’s aging concrete and clay sewer lines, Moore pointed out that previous work of a similar nature took place several years ago, so not all of the system is in dire need of repair.

One catch is that the actual state of the sewer lines is unknown, and will be better understood as the inspection work takes place.

That work will entail inspecting each line with cameras and smoke testing. If smoke escapes from a line it denotes a breach, and a necessary patch or line replacement. In addition to the inspection, the lines will be cleaned and coated with a special material.

Moore said as the inspection takes place additional necessary repairs may be found.

Lawler expressed concern about the Utility Authority’s ability to generate revenue and pay the loan back. The future of rate increases is a possibility, unless the board can find a way to increase revenue through water sales to municipalities or rural water providers, he said. Lawler said the board’s attorney, Mike Caples, is also looking into grants they can apply for.

But the ultimate goal of the Utility Authority is to bring the sewer systems of both of Pearl River County’s cities into the 21st century.

After discussion on the matter the board approved a motion to award the bid. Work on the project is expected to begin in September.

From now on the board will meet at 612 Neal Rd. in Picayune. The board approved a motion to amend their bylaws allowing the change to become official. Their meetings will still be held on the third Thursday of the month at 2 p.m.

The next meeting is set for Aug. 21.