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WRUA Treatment Plant Hits One Year Mark

Oct. 12, 2022

Source: Rankin County News


RANKIN - On September 30, 2021, the wastewater treatment plant that now serves members of the West Rankin Utility Authority (WRUA) began operations.

The WRUA - which consists of the cities of Richland, Brandon, Pearl, and Flowood, along with the Pearl River Valley Water Suplly District, the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority and the Mississippi State Hospital - had for years been sending its wastewater to the City of Jackson's Savanna Street plant.

That faciltiy is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs, so the WRUA sought and obtained a permit to build its own plant, which is located at 109 Interstate Drive in Richland. Total costs, including construction and land acquisition, were approximately $100 million. 

WRUA Executive Director Bruce Stephens said that before the local plant came online, West Rankin members were sending approximately 12 million gallons of wastewater to the Savanna Street plant for treatment each day. The new plant has a current capacity of 20 million gallons per day, but was designed to be expanded and treat up to 60 million gallons per day.

The WRUA purchased 58 acres of land on the east side of Richland, and the plant currently occupies about 15 acres.

"When we began the process of designing the plant, our engineers studied what we would need through the year 2040, and the estimate was that (the West Rankin entities) would be approaching 20 million gallons per day, so we built a plant that will carry us until 2040, and it's expandable if we need more," Stephens said. 

"On the evening of September 30, 2021, I closed the valves that were discharging our flows over to Savanna Street, and we diverted all the flows to the West Rankin plant on that date," he said. "When I closed those valves, that also ended our financial obligations to the City of Jackson for wastewater."

A 2010 Environmental Protection Agency report cited numerous violations at the Jackson facility, and through a consent decree, repairs were ordered that were estimated to cost $500 million. That figure has surely climbed over the past 12 years. 

"We are happy and relieved to be in the situation we're in now," WRUA Chairman and Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads said. "Before, we were dependent on an aging facility that was reaching its capacity and is facing an enormous repair bill. And West Rankin was on the hook for about 30 percent of that amount. Now, we are operating and maintaining our own plant, and we control our own destiny."

After ownership of the lines that once carried WRUA wastewater to Savannah Street was transfered from Jackson to the WRUA, local officials immediately began evaluating maintenance needs and got to work patching up the system. Stephens estimates that between 2005 and 2017, more than $30 million was invested rehabilitating, replacing, and lining those pipes.

"When our entities have a pump that fails, we already have spare pumps in place, ready to go into operation," Stephens said. "If a mechanical seal fails on a pump, we repair it and get it back in service immediately. We keep our equipment maintained on an ongoing basis, and we budget for that. We have operated our plant now for one full year, and we have remained in compliance with our permit requirements as far as the quality of the water that we have discharged to the Pearl River, and have remained on budget."


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