Growth spurs consideration of regional wastewater facility

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Population growth in north Lee County has strained its communities’ wastewater treatment facilities, all of which now face costly expansions to keep pace.
But rather than pursue their own separate projects, Baldwyn, Guntown and Saltillo and the county itself will collaborate on plans for a new, unified system.
Each will contribute $12,500 toward an eight-month study to determine the feasibility of a regional wastewater treatment facility.
Saltillo, Guntown and Lee County officials have approved the funding. Baldwyn is expected to do the same at its next board meeting.
The money will be matched by a $60,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $12,500 each from Three Rivers Planning and Development District and the Community Development Foundation.
The study will assess current wastewater services and needs in north Lee County, look at current wastewater conditions, identify potential short-term and long-term solutions, assist with establishment of interlocal agreements or a regional authority, and provide cost estimates as well as a financing structure.
Details of the plan were made available Wednesday by CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger.
“If we can consolidate that treatment process among the three communities, which would include north Lee Industrial Park and Turner Industrial Park, we’d gain some efficiencies by having a cooperative effort,” said Saltillo Mayor Bill Williams.
Saltillo’s population grew by 40 percent in the past decade, putting a strain on its mechanical wastewater treatment facility. Williams said it has some reserve capacity but an expansion is inevitable.
Guntown experienced the county’s largest population gain this over the past decade, growing by 76 percent. Mayor Robert Herring said his city’s wastewater treatment lagoon is at capacity. The community must seek short-term solutions in addition to the long-range regional plan.
“Guntown is in a worse position than the rest of them,” he said, “but we all realize we’ll have to greatly increase our capacity to serve the people.”
The study will cost roughly $135,000.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com