Judge approves move to Rankin County court in permit approval case

The West Rankin Utility Authority (WRUA) has scored a minor victory in its legal battle to come off of Jackson’s sewer system.

Last week, Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas approved West Rankin’s motion to have Jackson’s appeal of its permit for a wastewater treatment plant to Rankin County Chancery Court.

“We believe the court did the right thing. The statute was clear. The venue that is proper is Rankin County,” said WRUA attorney Keith Turner.

Jackson is appealing a decision by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to grant West Rankin a permit to build a wastewater plant on the Pearl River.

The appeal was filed in Hinds County Chancery Court in September, and WRUA filed a motion to have the case transferred to Rankin County.

Thomas granted the request last week, citing Mississippi Code Section 49-17-29.

“The permit was granted to WRUA to construct a wastewater treatment facility in Rankin County, to collect Rankin County wastewater, to treat wastewater at the facility located in Rankin County, to monitor and measure the wastewater in Rankin County and to discharge the wastewater at an outfall point … in Rankin County,” he wrote.

“While the city of Jackson asserts that this permit will have a greater impact on Hinds County, the (jurisdiction) of the subject matter is Rankin County.”

It was unclear at press time whether Jackson city officials would appeal Thomas’ decision. A further appeal would have to be decided by the Mississippi Supreme Court. 

WRUA is planning to construct a wastewater treatment facility on approximately 58 acres along U.S. Highway 49 in Richland.

The facility would serve approximately 100,000 people living in Flowood, Brandon, Pearl, Richland, and along the Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Collections from those areas make up about a quarter of the flow into Jackson’s sanitary sewer system.

If West Rankin comes off of Jackson wastewater, the city will lose around $5 million a year in revenue, but would not see a reduction in costs for treating the waste.

The new plant would cost between $100 million and $400 million to build, according to estimates provided to the Sun.

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