Hogansville files suit against County Water and Sewerage Authority

Published 6:16 pm Monday, December 9, 2019

The City of Hogansville announced Friday that it had filed a lawsuit against the Meriwether County Water and Sewerage Authority for violating two agreements with the city. 

According to documentation from the city, MCWSA entered into two intergovernmental agreements with the City of Hogansville on Aug. 15, 2011, that allowed the MCWSA to operate a sewerage system in both Meriwether County and Troup County by collecting wastewater within its jurisdiction and discharging it into the City of Hogansville’s wastewater treatment facilities for treatment.

A statement from the City of Hogansville stated that “both agreements require the MCWSA pre-treat its discharge into Hogansville’s wastewater treatment facilities, so its sewerage meets certain minimum standards determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, ordinances in Hogansville and in Meriwether County, and the contract language. For years, the MCWSA has failed to pre-treat any of its waste, and therefore violated the two agreements by discharging waste into the wastewater treatment system of Hogansville that was far outside the permitted levels of certain contaminants under the applicable legal authorities.”

In the lawsuit, the City of Hogansville included multiple examples where it attempted to reach out to the MCWSA to correct the issues. 

“We started fining them in December of last year,” said City Manager David Milliron. “This lawsuit was the last resort.” 

Meriwether County Manager Theron Gay said they were surprised by the lawsuit. 

 “We had responded to a request they had made to settle it,” Gay said. “But then we were surprised that they took that approach, when we were hoping to settle it.”

According to the statement, had the city not taken aggressive action and filed a lawsuit, the MCWSA’s violations would have subjected the city to possible fines by federal and state authorities, the loss of Hogansville’s state permit to treat wastewater, higher costs for treating the waste and potential damage to the new wastewater treatment facility that will be close to completion in December 2020.

“Despite numerous attempts by officials of Hogansville for years to rectify this situation through correspondence, meetings, fines and negotiations, the MCWSA has dragged its feet in responding,” said the city’s official statement. “[It] has only recently cured the worst of the situation, has only recently caused Meriwether County to enact the ordinance required by both of the 2011 contracts and continues to discharge non-compliant waste into Hogansville’s wastewater treatment facilities.”

In the lawsuit, Hogansville also seeks to remedy the MCWSA’s alleged violation of the Georgia Public Records Act by its failure to properly respond to requests for public documents under the act made by Hogansville officials. 

“The City of Hogansville considers this lawsuit a last resort to gain compliance with the two contracts that will allow it to open and operate the new wastewater treatment facility for the benefit of all citizens and industry served by the facility,” the statement said. 

Milliron said going further the city will have an Interlocutory hearing, where everyone presents evidence on each side, and a judge will determine what happens next. 

As of  Saturday, Dec. 7, the City of Hogansville has levied fines of more than $100,000 that have been left unpaid since Dec. 5, 2018, according to a violation  sent to MCWSA.   

“We have been willing to work on a solution, and we are going to be partners with them on the new wastewater facility,” Gay said. “We have a lot of other things to work on going forward as partners.”