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County building new water treatment plant

JACKSON COUNTY — Jackson County and the local utility authority will use grant money to build a new water treatment plan for the east side of the county.

Supervisor John McKay tells the Mississippi Press the project will cost $10 million to $12 million.

McKay said the money was originally meant for economic development at the Singing River Island Naval Station but the grant program was rewritten when the Navy left.

He said the original program called for a water treatment facility to supply water to the island, industry and the Helena area. He said it was redesigned to supply water to the eastern part of the county.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released $5.4 million to the county for use on the project. Those funds are basically reimbursements for money the county previously used to construct a supply line to Chevron Corp.’s Pascagoula refinery.

McKay said as the county spends those funds, it will seek reimbursement from the EPA to fund additional phases.

Tommy Fairfield, executive director of Jackson County Utility Authority, said the eastern part of the county has a low groundwater supply and water quality is poor in many areas.

“In a lot of cases, there’s just no water at all, and we’re running out of places to put wells,” he said.

The new plant will treat Pascagoula River water, sometimes mixed with groundwater during drought conditions and deliver it to residents through existing distribution lines.

Officials said they hope to have the project ready for bid before year-end.

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