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New industries raise wastewater concerns for county

NATCHEZ — Preparing for the return of industry means Adams County must figure out what to do with its industrial wastewater.

The county awarded engineering firm Jordan, Kaiser and Sessions the engineering contract for an economic development project Monday geared at improving the wastewater treatment facilities at the Natchez-Adams County Port.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said improvements will be made either to the Natchez Water Works facility or the former International Paper wastewater facility located on the Rentech property.

“We have got plenty of water capacity at the port, meaning that we have got enough capacity to move the water,” Russ said. “The Natchez Waterworks facility has the ability to take up to 5 million gallons of water a day.”

The problem, he said, is that the facility as it exists does not have the ability to process the kind of industrial wastewater expected to be produced by Elevance Renewable Sciences’ planned biorefinery facility in Adams County.

“It is an issue of what is in the water versus the actual water volume,” Russ said.

When the improvements move forward and which of the facilities will be improved — Water Works or the Rentech property — should be determined in the next 30 to 60 days. Russ said Natchez Inc. is in discussions with Rentech about the company’s wastewater facility.

Rentech recently announced it would be selling its Adams County property, after scrapping plans to create a coal-to-liquids fuels plant in the county.

“We are looking at both options that are out there and available,” Russ said. “We had to go ahead and contract those (engineering) services to have the ability to move forward once our determination was made.”

The funding for the eventual upgrades — for whichever facility is ultimately chosen — comes in the form of a $4.7 million grant from the Mississippi Development Authority, Russ said.

Elevance has committed to bringing 165 permanent jobs to Adams County. The company creates chemicals that serve as ingredients in personal care products, machine lubricants, detergents and fuels.