Supervisors hear water associations update

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, January 11, 2023

In an update from North Delta Planning and Development District’s Darrell Dixon 

Monday at the Batesville Courthouse, Panola County Supervisors learned that more of the county’s water associations than first thought have begun the often lengthy process of applying for state and federal grants and loans to upgrade their systems.

A week before, supervisors expressed frustrations with some water associations, especially those who have not responded to the county’s efforts to have each of them undertake efforts to secure funding for systems that are overloaded, or need to be extended.

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Some of the most rural areas of the county are not served by a water association and residents of those areas must rely on private wells for clean water and septic systems for waste removal. Other areas have water associations with infrastructure designed for half the current population and load requirements.

Installing new well pumps and water lines is an expensive undertaking, and most rural associations depend heavily on grants and low interest loans from  state and federal agencies to complete the projects.

Engineering fees alone are usually out of the scope of affordability for the rural associations, but a collaboration between those groups and the Planning and Development District usually produces a plan that allows for upgrades and expansions with a loan repayment structure that can be supported by system customers.

To secure that funding, however, water associations must be willing to complete federal applications and present updated information about services and monthly bills collected. Dixon said after last week’s discussion several water associations have made contact with his office and most have reached varying levels of completion of the application process.

“Unfortunately, this round of funding has been depleted and we are waiting to find out if there will be another round” Dixon told the board members. 

The supervisors were told that some associations have still not made contact with North Delta Planning and Development, and there is no evidence that they have begun any sort of application process.

Dixon said he will continue to work with the associations that have been in contact with his office and hopes for more success in funding in coming rounds of federal disbursements. “We just had others in front of us this time,” he said.