Water service, traffic safety discussed by Meadville leaders

by Sean Dunlap

Meadville officials have expressed their traffic safety concerns regarding access to an oil well site adjacent to Mississippi Highway 556 near the municipality’s corporate limits.

During the Tuesday, May 9 Board of Aldermen monthly meeting, Mayor Lane B. Reed said the town sent a formal letter to the Mississippi Department of Transportation citing issues with an access road to the well site from the two lane state highway.

“The response we got from MDOT dismissed our concerns about trucks accessing the road to and from the site, but we’re worried that someone is going to get killed right there,” Reed said.

“The problem is that people literally fly — at high rates of speed — through this section of highway and there would be little time for speeding drivers to react should they encounter a large truck turning at this location.”

In addition to the letter, Reed said he has spoken with local MDOT officials about the town’s fears of potential serious mishaps.

In a matter related to the oil well location, Alderman Charles Calcote brought up that site developers were asking the town to provide municipal water to the location — at a rate of up to 50,000 gallons per day.

“It’s impossible for us to provide them that much water on a two-inch line that currently exists in the area,” Calcote said.

“The big problem with the request is that we have three houses on that line and that volume of use would take away the water pressure those houses have right now.”

Calcote said even if the water expansion was possible, the town would have to seek permission from MDOT to drill beneath the highway to run such a connection — a process that would likely not meet the developer’s timetable for installation.

“The bottom line is that a two-inch water line is not going to be capable of providing 50,000 gallons per day,” he continued. “We had suggested he consider trucking water, but the developer didn’t like that idea. The reality is that it would be hard to truck that much water on a daily basis, not to mention the wear and tear on our streets.”

To that end, town attorney Will Halford said trucking water could potentially make the municipality’s original concerns about safety and truck traffic into and out of the site that much worse.
“I don’t think anyone likes that idea,” Halford continued.

Officials tossed around the idea of telling the site developer to consider constructing an independent water well to provide the volume he needs on a consistent basis.

“That would probably be his best move,” Alderman Bart Jones said.

Calcote said the town could potentially generate significant revenue if it could sell upwards of 50,000 gallons of water per day. However, he added such a tap could also potentially cause a drop in water pressure not just in the area of the oil well, but throughout the town.

“In addition to that, our pumps would be running around the clock because, on average, the town uses about 50,000 to 55,000 gallons in a 24-hour period with the hospital, nursing home and schools,” he went on to say.

“If we upped that to 100,000 gallons, we don’t pump that much water out of the ground in a day ... as our pumps won’t put but about 300 gallons per minute into the tanks, and that is with them running all the time.”

Officials then raised concerns of what this requested water usage might mean in terms of having the resources necessary in the event there was a major fire in the town.
“The bottom line is that our system, as it is designed now, is not capable of meeting this kind of demand,” Calcote said.

No action was taken by town leaders beyond the discussion.

In other action to come before the Board of Aldermen during the monthly business meeting, the panel took up these pieces of business:

• Negotiations are continuing between the municipality and MDOT in regards to agreements related to road improvements within the town in conjunction with the planned replacement of the U.S. Highway 98 bridge over the Homochitto River.

• Effort to make certain the town’s fire hydrants are in working order are moving forward with Reed noting one unit was recently replaced and four others could soon be rehabilitated.

“We have two kits to rebuild some of the plugs needing work in an effort to save all the money we can while making them functional,” the mayor noted.

• Rejected bids that were received for several pieces of heavy equipment being removed from the town’s public works inventory as the submissions did not meet the minimum amounts that were sought.

Among the items being sold were a Ford 6600 tractor and long-arm mower, a Ford 3910 tractor, a Farmtrac 70 tractor and small-arm mower and an extra long-arm mower boom for parts.
Reed suggested aldermen reject the bids as received with the town having the ability to negotiate with those making offers on the equipment in hopes of getting a better return or possibly readvertising for new bids at a future date.

• Authorized publication of the municipality’s annual water distribution system Consumer Confidence Report prepared by the Mississippi Rural Water Association.

• Approved Alderman Kay Scott to serve as the town’s voting delegate to the Mississippi Municipal League with Jones selected as the alternate voting member.

• Declared two sanctioned observances within the municipality — National Hospital Week held from Sunday, May 7 through Saturday, May 13 and National Garden Week slated for Sunday, June 4 through Saturday, June 10.

• Nine past-due utility accounts were reported for April, according to Town Clerk Leslie Thompson.

• The police department reported that it had been working with Dollar General store personnel in filing shoplifting paperwork during the previous month.

The next meeting for the Meadville Board of Aldermen will be held at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 13 at town hall on Main Street. The session is open to the public.