By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After seven weeks at the helm of the North Lee County Water Association, new board members have made small gains on the long road toward a well-run agency.
They implemented a regular flushing schedule to keep water lines clear, and they filed paperwork to gain legal possession of two water systems North Lee has served but had never formally acquired.
The water systems – Lake Piomingo and Auburn – are still registered under the names of their previous owners.
Northern District Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said he received North Lee’s applications for the systems last month and will hold a public hearing on the matter within the next 45 days.
Members also will receive professional training Tuesday from the Mississippi Rural Water Association. It’s required by law within the first two years of a member’s board appointment, but North Lee President Ken Clemons said the board doesn’t want to wait.
“We want knowledge so we can do the right thing by the association,” Clemons said. “When we’re done with that, we’ll start looking at rates and other long-term projects.”
Clemons and eight other men were elected to the board during a Nov. 15 meeting at the Saltillo Community Center. They replaced an interim board that had served for six weeks after former directors abruptly resigned amid a series of alleged scandals.
The utility is under scrutiny by the FBI, Environmental Protection Agency, Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and state Department of Health after employees alleged a series of instances of misconduct by the supervisor, who also resigned when the claims went public.
Also under fire were the association’s former board members, many of whom had served multiple terms and benefited from unlimited free water.
North Lee County Water Association operates seven systems serving approximately 4,400 customers. Numerous customers had complained about dirty, smelly water and a lack of concern by the former board and supervisor.
Since the agency changed hands, however, many customers have said the water appears cleaner. The Mississippi Public Service Commission has received two complaints during that time, Presley said.
The state Department of Health had noted in previous meetings that, despite discoloration and sediment, North Lee’s water had always been safe to drink.