Fort Smith wastewater non-consent decree work estimated to cost $194.8 million

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 662 views 

The proposed wastewater non-consent decree 10-year capital improvement plan (CIP) for the Fort Smith Utility Department includes large maintenance projects, system upgrades and required projects with a price tag of $194.854 million.

For 2024, the proposed CIP has a value of $11.486 million.

“The Wastewater Non-Consent Decree10-year CIP allocates projects over the entire 10-year period and prioritizes the projects by capital maintenance needs and future economic growth. Projects are by type to make it easier to understand the needs for a certain project that may be built or designed in multiple phases or under multiple contracts. An example of this is the Massard Plant upgrades,” Utilities Director Lance McAvoy said in a memo.

The Massard Plant upgrades include multiple projects including the improvements to the aeration basin, a belt press, roof replacement, belt press macerator, and an overall plant upgrade. Aging tricking filters at the Massard Plant have already exceeded their useful lifespan and are structurally failing, the Massard Plant aeration basin project sheet states.

“Design and construction of an activated sludge aeration basin to replace the aging treatment system will ensure compliance and account for future treatment capacity requirements,” noted the project sheet.

An aeration basin is imperative to deal with the effluent ammonia challenges the plant is facing, according to the city.The aeration basin project, which is a non-consent decree project, is expected to cost around $22.015 million with $6.6 million budgeted for 2024. The belt press has $1.2 million budgeted for 2024 in the proposed CIP, and the roof replacement has $420,000 budgeted for next year. Other expenses for the Massard Plant upgrades are scheduled in later years.

Other projects listed in the CIP for 2024 include $610,000 for Highway 45 utility sewer line relocation, $2.5 million in equipment replacement and $156,000 for lab HVAC make-up air replacement.

The Kelley Highway Environmental Laboratory operates six make-up air blowers for the laboratory fume hoods. These blowers are more than 20 years old and are ending their ability to assist in venting hazardous fumes from the laboratory environment, the project sheet states.

“For staff safety, these should be replaced,” it said.

Projects in the CIP will be funded from revenue set aside for the CIP or the 2018 Bond funds, McAvoy said in his memo. Additional funds may come available from reimbursements from eligible projects.

The utility department also submitted a proposed CIP for consent decree-related work that could total $428.068 million over the next 12 years. The consent decree-related projects for 2024 through 2035 will be funded from revenue set aside for the CIP and from the ⅝% sales tax voters approved in 2022.