Utility Authority asks D'Head W&S to reconsider $20M plant
By Dwayne Bremer
Dec 13, 2013, 20:34
The Hancock County Utility Authority has asked the Diamondhead Water and Sewer District (DWSD) to reconsider building a multi-million sewage treatment plant.
Utility Authority Attorney Ronnie Artigues said Thursday that the authority send a request to DWSD last month asking it to look at other options before moving forward with its construction plans.
The Diamondhead Water and Sewer District is an autonomous public entity which is certificated to provide water and sewer services in areas in and around Diamondhead.
DWSD is run by a five-member commission, which are appointed by the Hancock County Board of Supervisors; however, once appointed, commissioners act independently.
Commissioners appoint a general manager to run and oversee the day-to-day operations of the district.
The utility authority is made up of several local utility districts in Hancock County, including Diamondhead.
The authority recently constructed a new treatment plant on Texas Flat Road.
Utility Authority officials said this week that they believe it would be beneficial to both Diamondhead and the county for DWSD to use the existing facility.
Utility Authority Director David Patilo said Thursday the Texas Flat plant has a capacity of 1.5 million gallons of waste per day.
Currently, the plant is processing about 300,000 gallons per day, he said.
If DWSD were to transport its flow to the utility authority station, it would most likely decrease rates for residents in the city and the county as well, he said.
DWSD is currently soliciting bids for a new wastewater treatment plant; force mains relocations; and lift station repairs and mitigation.
It is also eyeing constructing new administrative and business offices.
The total cost for all of the projects is estimated too be in excess of $20 million. DWSD has received funding from numerous sources including FEMA, DWSD General Manager Michael Collard said Friday.
"The treatment plant will be 100 percent funded by FEMA," Collard said. "It's going to be a brand new facility that will be able to serve the needs of this community for the next 50 years."
Collard said if the new plant is built, current utility rates will not be raised.
One reason DWSD may wish to proceed with the construction projects is the current instability of the utility authority.
In the past year, the authority has had well-publicized financial difficulties because some of its members have not payed their bills in a timely manner. DWSD, by all accounts, is on solid financial footing.
The new projects will allow DWSD to be in control of its own destiny, officials said.
DWSD representatives were asked at a utility authority meeting if they had discussed last month's request and if DWSD was willing to listen to other proposals.
DWSD attorney Jim Simpson told the authority that his commission had not yet discussed the request, but would at the commission meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday, Artigues said.
The meeting, however, was held at 10 a.m., not 2 p.m. and utility authority officials were not present.
The utility authority's request for DWSD to reconsider was on the agenda for Thursday's meeting, but no final resolution has been made, Collard said.
"This is something that has been talked about for eight years," he said. "There has been ongoing discussions. We will most likely respond to the letter in writing within a week or two."
Collard said the ultimate decision on whether to go forward with the projects will lie with the commission, which will not meet again until January.
Bids on the treatment plant are due by Jan. 5.
No date has been set to open the bids.