Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stennis Study Of The PRVWSD Part 1

The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District:
An Overview For Decision Makers
The John C. Stennis Institute of Government
Mississippi State University

Beginning of text:
Pages 3 through 6
Link to full report HERE

Historical documents indicate that the need to secure an adequate supply of water for the City of Jackson was identified as early as 1926. At a March 3, 1955 meeting of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the need for a secure water supply and the depletion of existing wells and the water table was discussed. The Committee reported that Jackson’s water consumption had increased by fivefold from 1935 to 1955, and that the city was using water at a rate of 17 to 22.5 million gallons per day and that water pollution in the Pearl River was becoming an increasing problem.

A study authorized and paid for by the City of Jackson indicated that the construction of a dam and reservoir would cost approximately $18 to $24 million and the annual amortization cost to pay for the project would range between $970,000 and $1,280,000 over a forty year period. The study also found that the cost of constructing the dam and reservoir would be the least expensive alternative for providing a reliable water source for the City of Jackson. The study found that a system of wells to provide water for Jackson (assuming population increased to 500,000) would require 132 wells at a cost of $6.2 million, and that the cost of pipes, right-of-ways, pumping stations, and supporting infrastructure would cost an additional $6 million, with additional annual power costs of $105,000. These costs were determined to be prohibitive. An alternative plan to finance a water supply for the City of Jackson was required. Implementing the alternative plan for the construction of a dam and reservoir would require widespread support for the project throughout the basin area; “the project was designated the Pearl River Valley Reservoir to eliminate the potential opposition that might develop if the project was too closely identified with the City of Jackson.” To implement this strategy required a series of studies and a public relations marketing campaign that would demonstrate the benefits and the economic feasibility of the project.

The Mississippi Legislature created the Pearl River Industrial Commission in 1956. The Commission was authorized and empowered to “do any and all things necessary or deemed by it advisable to survey the region bordering the Pearl River, to investigate the possibilities of developing such areas from an industrial, irrigational, and recreational standpoint, to attract new industries, and to conserve available water for irrigational and industrial purposes, acting in cooperation with the federal government or any agency thereof and with any other interested groups.” In February of 1958, Senator Mitchell Robinson and Representative Jim Morrow introduced a bill to create the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District Act in both houses of the Mississippi Legislature; after temporary delays, Senate Bill 1724 passed the Senate by unanimous vote, received favorable consideration in the House and the Mississippi Legislature passed Senate Bill 1724, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District Act, which authorized the creation of the District on May 5, 1958.

The Legislative intent and declaration of the Mississippi Legislature’s policy in the creation of the Pearl River Industrial Commission and the anticipated creation of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District is stated in MS Code § 51-9-103 “as a matter of legislative determination, that the waterways and surface waters of the state are among its basic resources, that the overflow and surface waters of the state have not heretofore been conserved to realize their full beneficial use, that the preservation, conservation, storage, and control of such waters are necessary to insure an adequate, sanitary water supply at all times, to promote the balanced economic development of the state, and to aid in flood control, conservation and development of state forests, irrigation of lands needing irrigation, and pollution abatement. It is further determined and declared that the preservation, conservation, storage, and control of the waters of the Pearl River and its tributaries and its overflow waters for domestic, municipal, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and manufacturing purposes, for recreational uses, for flood control, timber development, irrigation, and pollution abatement are, as a matter of public policy, for the general welfare of the entire people of the state.”

The Mississippi Legislature identified the Pearl River Reservoir and the surrounding area as an asset of the state of Mississippi and the people of the state; “the exercise of the powers granted by this act will be in all respects for the benefit of the people of the state, for their well-being and prosperity and for the improvement of their social and economic conditions” (MS Code § 51-9-217).

The Pearl River Industrial Commission employed Lester Engineering Company of Jackson, Mississippi and Ebasco Services, Inc. of New York to conduct the engineering and economic feasibility study to construct the dam and reservoir in the Pearl River Basin. Upon completion of the study, the Commission petitioned the Chancery Court of Hinds County to establish the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. As provided for in Senate Bill 1724, the Board of Water Commissioners, each county within the proposed district, and every municipality with a population of 10,000 or more were party to the proceedings. The Mississippi Legislature identified the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District as the entity assigned this responsibility and granted broad powers to the District to manage, maintain, develop, and preserve this property for the benefit of the state of Mississippi. § 51-9-109 of the Mississippi Code empowered the District to “acquire, own, rent, lease, or sell land in connection with the recreational or industrial development and use of the project” to include and be limited to an area of one mile from the shore line of the reservoir at high water. § 51-9-121 enumerated the broad powers of the District, to include the power to “construct, extend, improve, maintain, and reconstruct, to cause to be constructed, extended, improved, maintained, and reconstructed, and to use and operate facilities of any kind within the project area necessary or convenient to the project and to the exercise of such powers, rights, privileges, and functions;” and in paragraph V restated the District’s “right to lease, sell, or otherwise dispose of any property of any kind, real, personal, or mixed, or any interest therein within the project area.” The Act also provided the District with the power to acquire, by condemnation, property that was “within the project area not exceeding one quarter mile from the outside line of the 300 foot above sea level contour on each side of the Pearl River,” and authorized the Board of Directors to determine what property was to be acquired.

The Act directed that notices of the hearing regarding the creation of the District should be provided by posting and by newspaper publication in each of the five counties, and expressly provided that it was not necessary to name landowners specifically in the petition. The public notices were addressed to all property owners and qualified electors in the proposed district and commanded them to appear and show cause as to why the District should not be organized and established. Chancellor Stokes V. Robertson of the Chancery Court of Hinds County set July 24, 1958 to begin hearing evidence regarding the feasibility and public purposes of the construction of the dam and reservoir. He found that the creation of the District would meet a public necessity and would be conducive to the public welfare of the State as a whole, and on July 26, 1958 entered a decree that the District should be organized. The Chancery Court of Hinds County then ordered that elections would be held on August 26, 1958 in each of the five impacted counties. According to a report by the State Times on August 26, 1958, the final vote for the referendum was as follows:

County             For District        Against District
Hinds                 12,877                 1,201
Leake                  2,600                   417
Scott                  1,748                   601
Madison                1,422                   516
Rankin                 2,366                   316

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