Walnut Ridge creates sewer upgrade committee

Also tasked with reducing mosquito/trash collection fees

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – At Monday night’s Walnut Ridge City Council meeting, the first step was taken to move the city toward a new sewer treatment system.

A committee was approved to look in to ways to offset added cost on residents water/sewer bills and to look for affordable ways the City can reduce additional charges currently being collected on the water bill. – Charles Snapp, Walnut Ridge Facebook Page.

Snapp talked to NEA Report about the need for a sewer treatment facility upgrade in his community last Friday. In the interview, Snapp said the treatment plant had not been upgraded since it was put in – in 1994. From lawsuits to violations of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the plant was described as having been a problem for the community since it’s inception.

At Monday night’s meeting, Snapp presented the committee with an assignment.

“The purpose of the sewer upgrade committee is to review financing options and look for available opportunities to turn the ADEQ mandated sewer treatment facility and system upgrade, in to a positive outcome,” Snapp wrote in a letter presented Monday night. “In short, instead of following past history and passing along every increase to residents, this Committee is challenged to find a way to avoid passing what could be as much as an additional $8.05 per month on to residents.”

“At the least, I would hope solutions could be found that would reduce or possibility eliminate the placement of additional charges on the water bill for this upgrade. I would also like this committee to include any ideas they may come up with to reduce or eliminate current charges like mosquito fees and trash collection fees,” – Charles E. Snapp, Mayor

Jon Kopp, Water Superintendent, along with Fire Chief Frank Owens, and aldermen Steve Benesch, Jon Walter, and Angie Abbott were all added to the committee.

Snapp said it wasn’t expected for the city to know the cost until at least February – possibly March. He said it could be $5 million for the city. The mayor expected costs above that could be picked up by the ADEQ in some form of financial assistance.

However, the mayor said the ADEQ required a plan to pay for the new upgrades by mid-April. This could squeeze the government into a decision by then – or to face potential financial penalties if they miss the deadline. Snapp said he doesn’t plan on missing it.

“My personal take from the meeting was, I felt like the city council wanted to be sure we got it right this time,” Snapp said. “Let’s do it. Do it right and build a system that will keep Walnut Ridge closer to compliance for decades to come. One of the things that was pointed out last night, this system, when it went online in 94, was approved to be a ‘major system.’ They’re for huge metropolitan areas and we’re put under the same tests and requirements as major metro areas. Getting that lowered to a minor facility – which could still handle decades of growth for Walnut Ridge – could save thousands of dollars a year in testing costs.”

Snapp said there were several angles working through the water department, engineers and administration in a search for this project to be done to the best quality. He described it as an arduous task for the city and the committee, specifically.

“I’m not excited about the fact that we’re doing it,” Snapp said. “But I’m excited at the potential for the outcome.”

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