Council hears about sewer improvements

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Picayune City Councilors heard from the executive director of the Pearl River County Utility Authority about ongoing improvements being made to the city’s wastewater infrastructure.
Ray Scott, executive director for the Pearl River County Utility Authority, outlined a number of projects that have improved the reliability of the city’s infrastructure system.
Some of the work that took place years ago includes the construction of the wastewater treatment facility on Neal Road. Scott said the facility is state of the art, using ultra violet light to remove bacteria from the treated water prior to being discharged.
Identical treatment facilities were built in Poplarville and Millard. The agency has also constructed three elevated water tanks since its inception in 2006. One serves the Poplarville area, another is just outside of Picayune and the third serves the Hillsdale area.
The most recent project Scott discussed was the sewer rehabilitation project. Through a $6 million loan, the Utility Authority was able to rehabilitate six of the city’s wastewater basins. Of the 90 miles of wastewater line, about 26 was rehabilitated through a process of cleaning, videoing and coating the inside of the pipes with a substance similar to PVC, Scott said. Only 21 miles were coated. The work is expected to give the system at least a 40-year lifespan. Scott said many of those lines were at least 60-years-old, some could have been as old as 80. Also, the project rehabilitated 392 of the city’s 1,600 manholes.
Another loan is planned to conduct similar work on more of the city’s lines.
Already, the Utility Authority has seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of infiltration to the sewer system typically experienced during a rain event. Scott said infiltration occurs when rainwater enters the wastewater system, causing the system work harder to treat more water.
To plan for future upgrades and maintenance, Scott said each month $35,000 is put into a reserve fund, which currently totals about $2 million. Those funds will be used to construct replacement facilities or perform maintenance.
Councilor Larry Breland asked Scott how long the Utility Authority’s current rate structure will last. Scott said he recently conducted a five-year projection, and does not expect the need for another rate increase for at least three to four years.
Representatives with the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District spoke to the Council about plans to form an economic development initiative under the Mississippi Development Authority’s Ambassador Program. The program would establish a board consisting of 11 representatives from the county, municipalities and private sector.
The first task would be to hire an executive director, said SMPDD Senior Project Manager Lindsay Ward. The aim would be to bring all of the agencies and private sector together to better attract and retain businesses, Ward said.
In other business the Council:
— Appointed Pam Haynes to the city’s election commission, and re-appointed J.P. Burns and Gladys Vaughn to the same commission.
— Approved a motion to extend the solid waste contract period between the city and Progressive Waste Solutions until Aug. 31, 2018, with no change to the current rate.
The next Council meeting will be March 21, at 5 p.m.

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