Judge signs consent decree in Hattiesburg wastewater settlement

Jan 25, 2021

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A federal judge signed a consent decree Wednesday between the city of Hattiesburg and state and federal agencies over a longstanding issue with the city’s wastewater system.

The consent decree and the accompanying lawsuit, filed by the Environmental Protection Agency, were announced by Mayor Toby Barker on Aug. 26 after seven years of negotiations.

Negotiations began during former Mayor Johnny DuPree’s administration after a September 2012 EPA inspection noted unreported sanitary sewer overflows.

Sanitary sewer overflows, or SSOs, occur when untreated sewage is discharged from a sanitary sewer system, which is a violation of the Clean Water Act and can pose a threat to public health. Law requires that SSOs be reported.

The city self-reported in 2017 that almost 900 SSOs had gone unreported from 2012 to 2016.

The consent decree between the city, the EPA and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality outlines a 16-year improvement plan for the city’s wastewater system.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett signed the consent decree, settling the lawsuit and setting the improvement plan into motion.

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