The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors voted in support of the intent to create resolutions for two new separate sewage utility districts at a recess meeting held Tuesday morning.
According to supervisors President Andrew Williams, grey water from the districts will be accepted by the city of Cleveland.
The board is facing pressure to improve the systems in a timely manner or otherwise lose grant money from the Delta Regional Authority.
The DRA has informed the board it must show significant progress in order to gain extension of support.
DRA funding and loans from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Equality are essential for upgrading the two systems in Bolivar County, as well as the Isaac Daniels subdivision in Mound Bayou, which will be operated by the city of Mound Bayou.
Bolivar County will be responsible for repaying the loans on all three projects.
Butler Snow law firm in Jackson has been hired by the board for legal guidance and assistance in establishing the two districts in Bolivar Countyx, which would impact approximately 140 property owners.
Butler Snow attorneys Sam Keyes and Michael Caples advised at Tuesday's meeting that the best plan of action was to begin the process immediately.
"It would be better to focus on two subdivisions rather than one countywide system," said Keyes. "This would be the most efficient and timely way to move forward. We recommend you start the process as soon as possible.
"The key is to show the DRA the significant progress you're making along the way."
The DRA could approve a second extension if substantial progress is shown.
For over 25 years, the residents of the subdivisions have pleaded for adequate upgrades.
“Sewage is a big problem for our neighborhood,” said Claude Boddie Jr., a resident of the Noblin subdivision on numerous occasions. “It runs into the ditches around the neighborhood and on hot days, the smell will hit you. This is a problem that we have been trying to get addressed for years."
After showing support for the resolution, the board must now follow mandated procedures by advertising public notices and holding public hearings.
Public hearings were tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. for Noblin residents and 6:30 p.m. for Stanton residents on Feb. 12 at the Bolivar County Expo annex building.
Bolivar County Engineer Bob Eley said, "This whole thing has been dragged out by trying to figure out who's going to operate the new systems.
"We've also got to get a clear idea of operating costs that will go into these districts. We need to create a budget for operation and management costs."
Eley estimated the project could be completed within 9 months once construction begins.
Because the two subdivisions are not geographically close to each other, Caples recommended the separate systems.
"We're trying to take the path of least resistance," said Caples.
Several board members expressed concerns over who should foot the bill if construction surpasses the estimated $1.9 million.
"I think the county should take the burden of loan costs," said Williams. "Citizens should only have to pay for usage costs."
Williams added that there is no way to determine an exact amount the county will owe until bids are accepted, but with support from the DRA and DEQ, "We might have to pay nothing or between $200,000 - $300,000."
"The DEQ will forgive up to $1 million in loans," said Williams.