Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

TOP STORY >> Cabot sewer to spend $10M

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission has accepted a bid of almost $10 million to build the wastewater treatment plant the city must have to stay out of hot water with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The existing plant is often out of compliance with ADEQ regulations about the quality of the water it releases from the plant.

It also is too small and the collection system that brings wastewater to the plant often brings in more rainwater than sewage.
To pay for the plant without increasing sewer rates, city voters agreed in September 2005 to extend an existing one-cent sales tax. The bond issue supported by that tax was about $30 million. Of that amount, $17.5 million will be used for the new sewer plant and improvements to the collection system.

Also included in the bond issue was $7 million to pay off the original bond issue for a water well field, treatment plant and water line, $800,000 for the city’s part of a $6 million federally-funded railroad overpass, $1.5 million to help build the new community center that should be completed by the end of October, $2.1 million for streets and $200,000 toward a new animal shelter scheduled to open July 27.

The low bid of $9.8 million to build a new sewer plant near the existing one on Marshall Lane, off Kerr Station Road, came from Max Foote Construction of Mandeville, La.

Bill Cypert, commission secretary, said the commission had heard all the industry rhetoric about the rising cost of fuel, concrete and steel and expected the low bid to be about $2 million more.

The cost of the entire project breaks down like this: cleanup of old sludge pond to make room for the new plant, $500,000; site preparation, $700,000; engineering by USI-Arkansas and Burns & McDonnell of Kansas City, Mo., $1.8 million; correcting stormwater infiltration problem, $1 million, and new sewer plant, $10 million.

The commission has always known that improvements to the collection system would cost more than the $1 million they had to spend.

Cypert said it is possible that some of the $2 million that won’t have to go toward the new sewer plant will be used for that.
Part of the savings also will go toward such expenses as parking lot paving, lights and easements that were left out of cost estimates.

USI-Arkansas, with offices in Little Rock and Springdale, was awarded a contract as the prime consultant in 2005 to provide design services for the wastewater treatment plant and will act as lead contract manager during the construction phase.
Burns & McDonnell provided engineering design services and technical consulting for the wastewater treatment process components and influent headworks of the new facility.

Portions of the new plant will be built on land reclaimed from an existing sludge storage lagoon. Use of the existing plant site eliminates the need to modify and relocate the existing sewer infrastructure as well as allowing for continued use of the administrative and support buildings at the existing wastewater treatment plant site.

The new plant will also utilize ultraviolet disinfection technology, eliminating the need for chlorine-based treatment processes.

A notice to proceed is expected from the city of Cabot by early August and construction will begin immediately, with completion by year-end 2007. The plant initially is expected to have an average flow of approximately 3-million-gallons-per-day (MGD) with maximum treatment capacity of 6-MGD.

The new plant will be large enough to take care of the city’s needs for the next 20 years, but the commission is aware that growth on the west side of town will soon make it necessary to either build a small plant in that area or build a large line to carry sewage to the plant that will soon be under construction.

Although a water rate increase about two years ago now brings in about $1.5 million to the water department that is not needed for operation and maintenance or debt service, the sewer department has no extra funds.

So while continuing an existing sales tax has made it possible to build one new sewer plant, the commission makes no promises that it can build a second one or make any other major improvements without a rate increase.