Settlement in the works for West Rankin lawsuit

The career fairs are open to the college’s students, alumni and the community. (Source: file...
The career fairs are open to the college’s students, alumni and the community. (Source: file photo)
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 1:53 PM CDT
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RANKIN CO., Miss. (WLBT) - A long legal battle stemming from who should pay for problems at the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Plant could soon be coming to an end.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Jackson City Council will consider a measure to accept a settlement agreement between the city and the West Rankin Utility Authority (WRUA).

Terms of the agreement, which are not being released prior to the council’s vote, were signed off on by the WRUA board of directors at its October 12 meeting, WRUA attorney Keith Turner said.

If the city council approves, the settlement would put an end to a case that has gone on for more than five years.

“We’re at a point where a settlement is good for both parties,” Turner said.

At the heart of the matter is whether WRUA should be responsible for some costs associated with the management of the Savanna plant.

Jackson is required to clean out the sewer lagoons at the plant as part of the city’s sewer consent decree. The work cost millions of dollars, and the city had hoped to pass on some of that expense to customers in Rankin County, court records show.

The lagoons, also known as storm cells, were designed so plant technicians could hold wastewater during peak capacity times.

The plant can treat 46 million gallons of wastewater per day. However, that amount can grow to more than 163 million gallons a day during heavy storms, when rainwater infiltrates leaks in the sewer system itself.

The lagoons were designed to hold that additional flow. But because they had not been cleaned out for years, wastewater had to be released into the Pearl River, court records show.

Attorneys for West Rankin argue that Jackson is solely responsible for the lagoon cleanup costs and point to the mismanagement of the wastewater treatment plant.

They also argue that based on an “independent audit performed by the authority,” the city overcharged for sewer service.

Meanwhile, West Rankin attorney Keith Turner said the authority is making progress on the construction of its own wastewater treatment plant.

The facility will be located on the Pearl River. Once completed, West Rankin will come off of Jackson’s sewer system and divert waste to the new plant.

Construction on it is expected to wrap up in late spring or early summer of 2021, Turner said.

In the end, work associated with the project could cost more than $90 million.

WRUA serves the cities of Flowood, Pearl and Richland, the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield and nearby state agencies, the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and residents along the Barnett Reservoir.

Officials with the city of Jackson could not be reached for comment.

The council will meet on Tuesday, October 27, at 10 a.m. The meeting will be at Jackson City Hall.

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