Leader Blues

Monday, December 03, 2007

TOP STORY >>Treatment plant ready to open in Cabot area

Leader staff writer

The $15 million wastewater treatment plant that Cabot residents are paying for with a one-cent sales tax is scheduled to open Dec. 10.

The 20-year-old plant it will replace has never performed well and was frequently out of compliance with state and ederal standards. Tim Joyner, head of Cabot WaterWorks, told the water and wastewater commission Thursday night that all the concrete work and 98 percent of the mechanical and electrical of the new plant is completed and it is now being filled with partially processed water from a polishing pond that is part of the old system.

When it is full, it will be “seeded” with sludge from a wastewater treatment plant in Jacksonville that contains the microorganisms needed for breaking down the wastes that will be pumped in.

The sludge from Jacksonville is free, but it will cost $500 to hire a company permitted to haul it by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

Although the cutover from the old plant to the new is less than two weeks away, the grand opening won’t be held until all the work is completed.

“It’s going to be well into the summer before that thing is cleaned up and looking good,” said Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission Chairman J.M. Park.

Joyner told the commission that it would be summer before the roads are built and the old plant is demolished.

In other business, Joyner told the commission that right-of-way acquisition for the waterline to Gravel Ridge that will connect Cabot to Central Arkansas Water has hit a snag.

About a dozen residents whose property is adjacent to the Little Rock Air Force Base are opposed to the line running beside the fence that separates them from the base.

Joyner said they are concerned because noise from the base is already a problem and they fear that cutting trees to lay the waterline will make the noise worse.

“One property owner has called everybody she can find,” Joyner told the commission. “They are all grouped together and they are very hot.”

Although Cabot will be allowed to continue pumping from its well field for many years, eventually all the water for the city will come from lakes. Connecting to CAW will ensure a good supply of water for decades to come.

Bruce Brown, finance director for Cabot WaterWorks, told the commission that revenue for 2007 is 7 percent lower than expected because growth in the city did not meet expectations.

The commission is currently working on a budget for 2008, and Gary Walker, commission vice chairman, told Joyner to try to keep expenses down next year.

The commission met Thursday with only three members: Cary Hobbs, Park and Walker.

Since banker Don Keesee took a position several months ago in northwest Arkansas, the commission has been down one member. But Bill Cypert, commission secretary, was also absent.

He sustained relatively minor injuries earlier this week in a vehicle accident.

He said Friday morning that doctors say he will recover without treatment and he expects to be able to attend the Dec. 13 commission meeting.