Jones joins PRC Utility Authority

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 16, 2018

Members of the Pearl River County Utility Authority swore in a new member to replace outgoing member Ike Lewis.

The new member is Chuck Jones, who retired last year from Areojet Rocketdyne at Stennis Space Center.

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During Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting Pearl River County Chancery Clerk Melinda Bowman swore Jones in before handling several matters.

Discussion of ongoing work by the Utility Authority concerned a partial update to the proposed plan by the Mississippi Department of Transportation to widen Highway 11, plans to install a belt filter press at the wastewater treatment plant in Poplarville and a required fix to an unused lagoon near the same treatment plant.

Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering, told the Board that there is not much in the way of an update concerning work by the MDOT to widen Highway 11. All he would say during the open meeting was that it appears the project is in a holding pattern.

Wallace did say that plans are complied on his end to move utility lines for both the Utility Authority and the city of Picayune. He also said that he has worked out an agreement between the Utility Authority and city to relocate utility lines for both agencies at the same time to save expenses for all three parties. MDOT has indicated in previous meetings that some of the expense to relocate water, sewer and natural gas lines will be reimbursed to both the Utility Authority and city.

It was also expressed to the Utility Authority and city that should changes be made to the project on the part of MDOT, any expenses incurred in additional engineering costs would also be reimbursed. Still, Wallace suggested holding off on conducting any relocation work until MDOT gives an updated timeline concerning when the state agency will start widening Highway 11.

According to previous coverage, the work to widen the highway will take place from the intersection of Lakeshore Drive to just before the bridge that crosses the east branch of the Hobolochitto Creek.

The Board also approved a motion to issue a payment of about $11,000 to Dungan Engineering for work to design a belt filter press for installation at the Poplarville wastewater treatment plant. Wallace said the project is now ready to advertise for bids.

An estimated cost to complete the project is $350,000.

Wallace said he expects to be able to open bids on that project by March 20, of this year.

Once the project is approved, it may take up to five months to complete. Concern from the Board about that timeline prompted them to ask Wallace to create a list of expenses for a more expedient timeline and the expenses currently incurred in transporting waste from the Poplarville facility to another facility. Installation of the belt filter press would alleviate the need to transport that expense when it’s complete.

An old lagoon at the Poplarville facility that has not been in use since 1983 is in need of repairs. Wallace said that four years ago a levy in the lagoon broke due to pest activity.

Since then other breaches have occurred along other banks of the lagoon, which is near a creek. He suggested the Board seek bids to repair the most recent breach,, which he expects to cost about $30,000 to $35,000.

While the repair will prevent future leakage from that location, another bank of the same lagoon has a number of weak spots, leading him to suggest the Board consider a long-term plan. While the water at the surface of the lagoon meets Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality discharge requirements, there is still the issue of the sludge at the bottom.

The Board could opt to drain the lagoon, with MDEQ approval, and then address the sludge at a later date.

For the time being, the Board approved a motion to seek bids to repair the breach, and then discuss potential options to properly abandon the lagoon at a later date.

The next Board meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. March 15, in the Boardroom of the treatment facility in Picayune off Neal Road.