- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The city of Hattiesburg now has until September 2018 to build a wastewater treatment system that will prevent polluted waters from being discharged into the Leaf and Bouie rivers.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett on Monday approved an agreement between the city and the Gulf Restoration Network.

The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1rL29yJ ) the city council voted in August to accept the modified consent decree that reset the city’s clock with various agencies for having a revamped treatment system designed, under construction and in operation.

The degree also amended financial penalties levied earlier by the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality should the city miss design, construction and compliance deadlines.

“This came from negotiations with Gulf Restoration Network in the federal court,” City Council President Kim Bradley said Tuesday. “It changed some of the timelines. It changed some of the fines, increased the fines.”

The new order bumped an October deadline to have a system designed to September 2015, and a February 2017 operational deadline to September 2018.

“It allows us to have a little more time to solve our wastewater problems,” Mayor Johnny DuPree said.

The city’s two-lagoon, filtering system had been damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then further compromised by highly toxic industrial waste from USA Yeast. That resulted in the discharged effluent going into the rivers exceeding acceptable levels for various toxic elements, including suspended solids, fecal coliform and chlorine residual.

For violations at the lagoons dating back to December 2010, the state fined the city $101,500 at the rate of $100 a day.

Under the amended order, the city will pay $1,500 a day for any deadline delays on design (September 2015), construction start (May 2016) and completion (May 2018) of wastewater treatments system.

The penalty would rise to $2,000 a day if the city fails to meet the operational deadline of September 2018.

The agreement also requires the city to build a downstream, water-quality monitoring station on the Leaf River to make sure that the treatment system is properly filtering the wastewater collected by the city’s sewage lagoons.


Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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