Memphis ends million-dollar sewage treatment deal with Horn Lake

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The City of Memphis said it will stop treating sewage from Horn Lake as a part of a Memphis-first strategy.

The decision will actually cost Memphis more than a million dollars per year, but city officials said that's not the point and it's not what they're looking at.

"This is another decision that's based on making sure that we are serving the customers that are most important to us first and that's our citizens," Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht said.

Knecht said the city just notified Horn Lake that the time is up on a 40-year agreement to treat their sewage, worth $1.2 million yearly.

Roughly 8 million gallons of wastewater from Horn Lake is pumped up to the city's southern treatment plant--about 10 percent of the plant's capacity.

"At the time Mississippi was a much smaller community there was very little activity compared to what it is now," Knecht said.

Knecht said in prior decades, the EPA focused on cities like Memphis to provide sewage treatment for smaller communities.

"They would try to come up with these agreements because the intent was to try and do what they could regionally to treat wastewater," Knecht said.

Last year, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced the city would stop providing residential and commercial sewer hookups outside city limits, angering many county leaders.

The city is slated to start a $170 million upgrade to its southwest treatment facility.

City officials said cutting the agreement with Horn Lake frees up more sewer capacity in the system for future economic and residential development.

"That contract doesn't serve the interests of Memphis. It serves the interests of Horn Lake, Mississippi," Knecht said.

Horn Lake Mayor Allen Latimer said it is too early to speculate the implications for Horn Lake or any possible costs. The area is served by a sewer district.

The new policy is set to go in place in 2023.

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