Marion considers new wastewater option

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 28, 2004
Marion aldermen plan to seek permission from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to build a sewerage system involving a series of lagoons that would not discharge waste into area streams.
The move comes after state DEQ officials on Tuesday denied a request from Marion, a town of about 1,300 people, to build a new wastewater treatment plant.
The city's old wastewater treatment plant hasn't been used since 1987, when Meridian began treating Marion's waste.
Marion aldermen considered revamping the old plant after losing a court fight over the fee Meridian could charge the smaller town to treat its sewage. Last year, a Lauderdale County chancery judge ruled that Meridian could begin charging Marion $2.43 per thousand gallons of treated sewage up from 67.7 cents per thousand gallons.
The ruling ended a two-year battle over the sewage rate and left Marion with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. An exact figure was unavailable.
The lawsuit also resulted in large utility increases for Marion residents.
Marion Mayor Malcolm Threatt said Marion charges residents $6.10 per 1,000 gallons of sewage. Threatt said he thinks the residential sewerage rate could be cut in half if the town develops its own sewerage capabilities.
In May, DEQ Executive Director Charles H. Chisolm told Threatt the DEQ would not allow Marion to discharge treated wastewater from a new plant into Sowashee Creek Meridian's main drainage canal.
Chisolm recommended Marion relocate the proposed discharge to another stream, design a new plant that would not discharge to surface water at all, or work out a pollutant trade agreement with Meridian to limit the amount of discharge.
Marion officials also are considering applying for a $450,000 Mississippi Development Authority grant to make sewerage improvements.

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