U.S. government sides with ACWA

Published 12:09 am Friday, October 5, 2012

NATCHEZ — The U.S. government is getting involved in a long-standing disagreement between the Adams County Water Association and Natchez Waterworks.

The ACWA alleges that Natchez Waterworks has improperly expanded its infrastructure and services into ACWA’s coverage area.

In a filing made Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Pearson told the U.S Southern District Court — Western Division of Mississippi that the government, specifically the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, would rather the court rule in favor of the ACWA.

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The filing states that AWCA owes Rural Development two loans worth a total of $2,241,749.78.

The filing also cites a federal law that says a municipal body cannot expand its services into a franchise area while the franchise area is under such a loan.

The Adams County Water Association filed suit against Natchez Waterworks in December 2010, alleging that Waterworks had previously and was planning to expand its services into areas in which ACWA had been granted an exclusive franchise, including the Homewood subdivision and the Alcorn State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College campuses in Natchez.

In its response, Waterworks claimed that their service to the Homewood area had been granted a special exemption by the Mississippi Public Service Commission in 1966, and that Waterworks provided service to the Co-Lin campus because the ACWA “could not, did not and would not provide service or make available the provision of water service in that area in 1980 nor for 30 years thereafter.”

Waterworks also alleges it heard no complaint about the Co-Lin area until April 2010.

The two bodies also have a disagreement about whether the ACWA has a franchise over water services for non-potable water.

The court has suspended court deadlines so both sides can respond to the U.S. government’s filing.