Natchez Water Works, Adams County Water disagree on area coverage

Published 4:27 pm Sunday, April 29, 2007

The city and county water services might not be involved in a turf war, but they have filed papers to intervene in each other’s attempt to make their service areas official.

Adams County Water Association and Natchez Water Works both want to bring areas they’re serving into their franchises, prohibiting the other utility from serving customers in the areas.

In order to do this, both must go before the Mississippi Public Service Commission and get its blessing.

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On March 30, Natchez Water Works filed a motion to intervene at Adams County Water’s upcoming hearing. Two weeks later, Adams County water did the same.

Both motions look similar with each service saying the other’s map is wrong and that it shows areas the other is currently serving.

According to the motions, neither service necessarily opposes the new areas, but they reserve the right to cross-examine the other at their hearings.

For Adams County Water, it goes further than that, Manager Ken Herring said.

“These are two completely different issues,” Herring said. “As far as Adams County Water’s concerned, we’re going to the public service commission, and if Natchez Water Works wants to follow us up there, they’re welcome to.”

Natchez Water Works Superintendent David Gardner said the city waterworks just wants Adams County Water to fix its map.

“We looked at the map, and we saw their map was inaccurate,” Gardner said. “It overlapped into areas we were already serving. In order to correct that, we had to ask the public service commission that we intervene to correct that map.”

Adams County Water’s map showed broad areas they serve and didn’t include small detail areas the Natchez Water serves, Gardner said.

“They shaded whole areas and didn’t take out areas we’re serving,” Gardner said. “A couple places off Morgantown Road, various little areas on the map here and there we’re currently serving that needs to be shown in the Natchez Water Works section.”

For Adams County Water to go to the public service commission, they have to list their franchised area, an area granted in 1966, Herring said.

“The area in question is where Natchez Water has encroached into our franchise, but we still have to list that area,” Herring said.

The other issue, Adams County Water’s filing a motion to intervene against Natchez Water Works, is a different subject, Herring said.

Natchez Water Works has a right to extend one mile outside the city limits. If they want to go further — up to five miles outside — they have to go before the commission.

Natchez Water is asking to extend service along U.S. 61 South, where both commercial and residential developments are planned.

If they’re going to do that, Herring said, Adams County Water wants them to serve other areas within that five-mile radius, areas that might not be as profitable but need service.

“We want what’s best for the residents, not for (Natchez Water) to just cherry-pick areas,” Herring said.

For example, there’s an area just north of town that needs water service, Herring said. And south of town, Adams County currently buys water from the Natchez Water and sells it to Providence Road residents.

Natchez Water should serve those people directly, Herring said.

“If they want to claim that (area on U.S. 61 South), they need to serve these other areas,” Herring said.

None of those requests are spelled out in Adams County Water’s motion to intervene.

Gardner said he wasn’t familiar with Adams County Water’s suggestion.

If no motions had been filed, the public service commission would have heard from both water services Thursday, executive secretary Brian Ray said.

Now, the water services will each have to schedule a special hearing with the commission.

“We don’t hear contested cases on docket day,” Ray said. “If the parties agree to a hearing day, it could be heard (later) in May.”