Jackson County had a groundbreaking Thursday for a new waste water treatment plant. The plant will supply the ever growing industrial and residential population in the northern and eastern areas of Jackson County. It will also help the Hurley Fire Department. After almost 20 years of tug and pull with the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) and legislators, the Jackson County Utility Authority (J.C.U.A.) finally got the green light to start construction on a new waste water treatment plant. Once it is completed, many places in Jackson County that rely on wells will now have a dependable source of drinking water. John McKay, Jackson County Supervisor for District 5, says, "A lot of drought, a lot of times wells dry up. A lot of times you get salt water intrusion in the wells, and so there's a lot of benefits."
Once the new waste water treatment plant is up and running, it will have several holding tanks filled with treated water. Once everything is functioning, the plant will be able to pump out a million gallons of water each day. Tommy Fairfield, the Executive Director J.C.U.A., says, "If we need to go to two and a half to three million, we have plans for that and sort of the groundwork at this part, so there will be a much less cost to arrive at that capacity." This project involves more than just clean water. It may just save lives and property in the long run. As part of the project, fire hydrants have been installed throughout Hurley. In the past, firefighters had to go to lakes, swimming pools, and ditches to collect water and then shuttle it back to the site of the fire. Now they can hook their trucks right up to the hydrants.
Earl Etheridge, the Emergency Director for Jackson County, says, "It will certainly cut back on the time that you're on the scene and have to go get water and then come back to the scene. ‘Cause you could lose 30 to 40 minutes having to leave the scene and come back and shuttle water back and forth." These hydrants are expected to lower the fire rating for areas of Jackson County and ultimately cut insurance costs for homeowners. So in all, this project will lead to more clean water in the county and more money in the pockets of homeowners. The project is being funded by the E.P.A., M.D.E.Q., J.C.U.A., and other private companies. Construction is already underway and is slated to be done this time next year.