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Hattiesburg wastewater treatment system could cost $152M

HATTIESBURG — The city of Hattiesburg could be looking at about $152.5 million over the next three years or so for a fully-mechanical wastewater treatment system that would continue to discharge into the Leaf River.

In a presentation Tuesday night to the Hattiesburg City Council and Mayor Johnny DuPree, The Hattiesburg American reports Neel-Schaffer engineer Nathan Husman offered four fully-mechanical scenarios ranging from $136 million to $154 million.

The least expensive of the breakdowns included:

—$23.5 million for site preparation

—$117 million for actual construction

—$5 million to consolidate sludge from three cells into a fourth

—$7 million for the closure of the three cells after consolidation.

The city is under a federal consent order to begin construction of a treatment solution by May 2016 and have the facility in operation by May 2018.

Neel-Schaffer was brought in by the city as a consultant to vet various treatment processes and systems, providing cost analysis and effectiveness of each. Husman has been making presentations to council and the mayor during their monthly meetings.

Councilwoman Deborah Delgado grilled Husman on whether Groundworx LLC, was back in the picture as an option, and if so, who had requested that land-application be brought back to the table.

Husman reminded her that the council had asked in December that all treatment options be explored. He said Neel-Scahffer had met with Groundworx representatives a few weeks ago in a “non-obligatory,” information-gathering session, and that costs presented Tuesday night did not contain any land-application component.

Groundworx and the city had signed a contract in January 2014 for the Hattiesburg-based company to design, build and operate a wastewater disposal system that would spray the treated water over acres of land rather than discharge into the river.

But the agreement fell apart over the city’s financial support of a bond issue that would cover the $141 million project.

Groundworx sued the city for breach of contract in Forrest County Chancery Court, and a cross-complaint was filed by Hattiesburg resident Thomas Blanton, whose suit argued the contract violated the Mississippi and United States constitutions.

Chancery Judge M. Ronald Doleac agreed with the constitutional argument in dismissing Groundworx’ complaint.

Groundworx then began an appeal of the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court, but DuPree said Tuesday night Groundworx had since dropped the appeal.

 

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