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By Lynn Kutter

ENTERPRISE-LEADER

FARMINGTON -- The board of directors for Washington County Property Owners Improvement District #5, owner of Valley View sewer system, approved three resolutions last week that will move along the process to build a sewer line from Valley View to Prairie Grove.

The three-member board voted to declare its "official intent" to build the sewer line and agreed to pay the costs to construct a lift station and pipeline to transport wastewater to Prairie Grove for treatment.

In addition, the board also voted to give William Stephenson, commission chairman, the authority to enter into an agreement for loans through Arkansas the Natural Resources Commission and authorized Communities Unlimited, which is overseeing the system at this time, to act on behalf of the property owners improvement district with the Natural Resources Commission.

Valley View's sewer system was placed in receivership in April 2016 with Communities Unlimited, a nonprofit rural development organization, because of ongoing problems and violations with state law.

The Natural Resources Commission agreed in March to provide the improvement district two loans for the sewer construction project. One is for up to $3.6 million from the Arkansas Water, Waste Disposal and Pollution Abatement Facilities General Obligation Bonds. This loan is for 32 years at 4.25 percent.

The second is a deferred loan of up to $1.03 million from the Arkansas Water, Sewer and Solid Waste fund. This loan is for 30 years with a repayment schedule of 25 years at 5 percent interest. There will be no interest or principle payment for five years.

Jerry Kopke with Communities Unlimited told the board of directors on May 8 the deferred loan is very important because it allows the sewer system to grow its customer base as new houses come online.

The system provides sewer service to Valley View Estates, Walnut Grove Acres and Meadow Sweet subdivisions in Farmington and Prairie Grove. Two new subdivisions also will have sewer service from the system, Saddlebrook in Farmington and Highland Green in Prairie Grove.

The customer base has grown from 483 in 2016 to its current base of 517 customers, Kopke said.

Communities Unlimited is in the process of getting sewer easements for the new pipeline. It will need 32 easements from 28-30 property owners. Easements will include a construction easement as well as a permanent utility easement from those property owners.

Kopke said he is waiting on final approval of design and construction plans by Arkansas Department of Health and then the project will be ready to proceed with advertising for bids.

"The Department of Health has received the plans. They ask questions and the engineer responds and then the Health Department wants more clarifications," Kopke said. "We're close to having that resolved. Once we get the green light from the Department of Health, we're ready to go."

Once easements are approved, bids are approved and contracts are signed, construction should take 12-18 months, Kopke said. He said it is probably three to six months away from when construction will start.

"We're not moving slow. It's just we can't move as fast as we would like," he said.

Stephenson said it seems everything is falling in place. The big piece, Stephenson said, was getting low-interest loans to pay for the project.

Several issues still have to be resolved. The improvement district will have to get an easement from the Golf Course at Valley View for the sewer line on the golf property. This is still in negotiations with the golf course owner.

In addition, the sewer rate customers will pay in the future has not been decided. Currently, customers pay a flat rate of $40 per month. When the system connects to Prairie Grove, customers will pay an amount based on actual usage, in addition to a base fee to help with paying back sewer loans.

For now, the improvement district is hauling its untreated wastewater to Prairie Grove's sewer system and this will continue until the new sewer project is finished. Prairie Grove charges the district $6.19 per thousand gallons. The fee will go up to $6.21 per thousand gallons when the improvement district connects to Prairie Grove.

Another issue that needs to be discussed in the future, Kopke said, is the transition from Communities Unlimited as receiver for the system to it going back to being managed by the improvement district.

"We won't leave you hanging but we've got to look at a way toward the commissioners actually governing the system," Kopke said.

Williamson said the board of directors will need someone to run the system as well as having legal counsel.

General News on 05/16/2018

Print Headline: Progress For New Sewer Line Slow But Steady

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