Jackson County wastewater project gets $3 million for next step - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson County wastewater project gets $3 million for next step

Once the new wastewater treatment center is complete, this one in Pascagoula will be closed. (Photo source: WLOX) Once the new wastewater treatment center is complete, this one in Pascagoula will be closed. (Photo source: WLOX)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has provided $3 million to support the design of a new plant in Jackson County that will change how treated wastewater is utilized.

Because of the projected cost, it's going to require big time buy in from everyone. For Jackson County Utility Authority Executive Director Tommy Fairfield, it’s time to take wastewater treatment into the future.

“We’re full steam ahead,” Fairfield said. “We’re not losing focus of everybody here right now and everything we need to do, but we’re looking to the future.”

The project is the next step in a year's long process, but it has big promises: to reduce the number of wastewater treatment facilities, to reduce the amount of freshwater used, and to eliminate all wastewater discharge by recycling it specifically for industry.

Fairfield says the initial study set the stage for this new step that will include site selection, environmental permitting and engineering for the new treatment center.

“We’re fortunate in South Mississippi,” he said. “We’re not often looking for water. We have plenty of it. We have to clean it up. That’s always a challenge - the quality of the water.”

When the new plant is built and on line, the two existing treatment plants would be closed.

But until then, Fairfield said the current plants still need some love.

“It’s like if you know you're going to buy a new car in five years, you still got to keep the tires and brakes and shocks on the ones you got now,” Fairfield said.

It's going to take a while - about 10 years. And, it will cost. Some estimates have the total price tag at about $300 million to $400 million.

The local match to federal funds is 25 percent.

“It’s going to be a significant cost,” said JCUA board member Kevin Coggin. “And there will be a need for significant federal money and there will be a significant local buy in.”

But, utility Coggin says it’s worth it.

“This plant is very important to the future of our community, protecting our environment and protecting our waterways.”

The new phase should take about two years to complete.

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