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Utility Authority discusses sewage backups, leachate issues

Members of the Pearl River County Utility Authority Board of Trustees discussed a problem one Picayune resident has been dealing with for years.
Picayune resident Teaverya Simmons spoke to the board about her home being flooded by sewage. She said she has been dealing with the issue since her family moved into the rental home about two years ago, but has gotten worse in the past six months. In that time, the home she is renting flooded due to sewage backup eight times, causing her to have to pull the carpet and padding from the home.
Each time they call a plumber to fix the problem, it returns within two weeks.
Operations Director Alan Howe said crews have been to the home and flushed the lines by the street twice, and see only minor problems on the Utility Authority’s end. After further discussion the board decided the problem is most likely located on private property, where the Utility Authority can not conduct work. The owner of the property, Billy Brown, was advised that the Utility Authority will conduct some improvements on the city’s right of way and will alert him once it’s complete so he can set about installing the right sized main on his property, which should fix the problem permanently.
Local CPA Ray Scott presented the board with a rundown on how the agency’s budget is coming along. He said so far revenue came in at $299,000 for the previous month, which is 3 percent more than budgeted. While most of the other line items he covered came in within range, if not a bit short, one caused concern with board members, the processing of leachate.
The board budgeted annual revenue of $120,000 for treating the wastewater collected from landfills, otherwise known as leachate. However, Scott said because of the high acid levels in the leachate coming from Pecan Grove, Picayune’s treatment facility is unable to meet the demand without exceeding Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality standards for treated waste water.
What the discussion came down to is the plant will only be able to process half of what was budgeted. Board member Bill Winbourn said according to what Scott presented, the Utility Authority would only be able to make about $24,000 a year, after all expenses are paid, from processing leachate. That revelation led the board to consider discontinuing the service. Board President Steve Lawler said the board will discuss that possibility at a later date.
In a separate matter, engineer Vernon Moore presented images concerning what has been found so far in the wastewater videoing project. So far a number of problems have been found in the city of Picayune’s worst basin.
Estimates predict that about 30 percent of the lines in that basin will need to be lined, Moore said. However, it’s possible that even more will need to be lined.
This project will entail videoing and repairing about 190,000 feet of wastewater mains. Engineer Brooks Wallace said the city has about 490,000 total feet of wastewater line. A previous lining project took care of 60,000 feet of that line, meaning completion of this project will take care of more than half of the city’s lines.
During his presentation Moore showed images of the most severe damage captured by the video equipment, including signs of root intrusion that blocks a major portion of the line, faulty point repairs where the repaired section of line sunk below the level of the original line and areas where a void has formed over the line, creating a hazard that needed immediate attention. Moore said major hazards were fixed immediately.
The next board meeting will be on Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. at the treatment facility on Neal Road in Picayune.