By Randy Bell
The City of Clinton has taken another step toward joining with two other municipalities to seek more funding to take care of their future sewage disposal needs. The Board of Aldermen voted at its September 20 meeting to petition the Hinds County Chancery Court to authorize the creation of the Clinton/Raymond/Bolton Wastewater Authority. The Mississippi Legislature this year passed a law allowing the regional effort but requiring the court’s approval.
The Authority will continue the push for the millions of dollars needed to build a nineteen-mile pipeline to carry treated wastewater to the Big Black River, enabling Clinton to meet a 2030 deadline for bringing its sewage disposal system into state compliance and benefiting Raymond and Bolton, as well.
But the price tag could be a moving target. Former Congressman Gregg Harper is working for Clinton as a lobbyist in Washington and Jackson.
“The estimate was $97 million. That was back in October [of 2021]. I’m confident that it’s more than that now,” Harper said.
Mayor Phil Fisher told the Board that about $25 million has been obligated for the project.
Harper said, “We’re making progress, but it is a slow process. And that’s just part of what you have to go through.”
And there’s the added uncertainty of what Congress will look like after the mid-term elections, he says.
“You never know how elections in various races could impact things,” Harper said. “I think it seems rather apparent that the Republicans will get control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate is still up in the air. It could go either way.”
Harper says he’s hoping for bipartisan support.
“Everybody realizes that localities can’t really do this on their own,” he says. “It requires some federal funding.”
He says he’s been in regular contact with members of the state’s Congressional delegation and plans to return to Washington for in-person meetings in November.
Even though there’s a long way to go, Harper believes the teamwork approach can be effective.
“I’m optimistic. But we have to learn how to be patient – and that’s not always easy for me.”