Loan to city OK’d to rein in sewage

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - EMILY WALKENHORST

The Arkansas Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mis­sion will is­sue a loan of $61.6 mil­lion to the Lit­tle Rock Water Recla­ma­tion Au­thor­ity for the fi­nal stage of its in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment project de­signed to pre­vent sewage over­flows.

The au­thor­ity, Lit­tle Rock’s wastew­a­ter util­ity, will use the funds to as­sess sewer lines through­out the city, de­ter­mine whether lines need to be ex­panded and then re­place the ones that do, said John Hol­loway, the util­ity’s di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices.

Pipes that are too small are sus­cep­ti­ble to leak­ing when rain­wa­ter in­fil­trates them. Such leaks led to a law­suit in 2001 from the Sierra Club, which even­tu­ally prompted the $263.1 mil­lion in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment project.

Be­fore the im­prove­ments, which have taken place for a few years, sewage leaks were com­mon af­ter heavy rain­falls, said Glen Hooks, di­rec­tor of the Arkansas chap­ter of the Sierra Club. The leaks don’t hap­pen as much any­more, Hooks said, and the pipe re­place­ments will re­duce them fur­ther.

The loan’s terms have not been set, but the re­pay­ment sched­ule will not ex­ceed 30 years, ac­cord­ing of­fi­cials of the com­mis­sion, which is a state agency that es­tab­lishes pol­icy and makes fund­ing and reg­u­la­tory de­ci­sions re­gard­ing soil con­ser­va­tion, nu­tri­ent man­age­ment, water rights, dam safety and water re­sources plan­ning and devel­op­ment.

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