NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has joined the Adams County Water Association in its lawsuit challenging the service area of Natchez Waterworks.
The Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/SE0g4O) that the ACWA contends Natchez Waterworks improperly expanded into ACWA's coverage area.
In a filing in federal court in Natchez, the USDA argues federal law bars a city from expanding its services into a franchise area while the franchise area has outstanding loans.
The USDA's Rural Development officials say ACWA owes more than $2.2 million on two Rural Development loans.
The ACWA sued Natchez Waterworks in 2010. The lawsuit alleges Natchez Waterworks moved into its services into areas where ACWA had an exclusive franchise. The areas, according to the lawsuit, included the Homewood subdivision and the Alcorn State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College campuses in Natchez.
In its response, Waterworks claimed that its service to the Homewood area had been granted a special exemption by the Mississippi Public Service Commission in 1966. Waterworks said it 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 alleges it heard no complaint about the Co-Lin area until April 2010.
The two bodies also disagreed about whether the ACWA has a franchise over water services for non-potable water.
Both sides have been given time to file responses to the USDA brief.
Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/