Leachville Council discusses sewer and drainage
Leachville City Council held a working meeting Thursday, Sept. 7, discussing wastewater plant improvements and drainage.
Interim Mayor Lisa Baldridge introduced Wayne Menley with Miller/Newell Engineers.
Menley discussed the needs and cost for improvements on the wastewater treatment facility.
“We have been working on plans to extend the sewer system to the newly annexed areas to Highway 18,” Menley said. “The city's treatment plant, which is over 30 years old, is in need of improvements.”
Menley went on to say the city can revise the request for grant/loan funding for the expansion project to include the wastewater treatment plant improvements.
Menley presented in detail renovations needed including the cost of site demo, new clarifier, renovate existing clarifer, sludge filter, UV system, replace rotor, parshall flume, and yard piping.
The total cost for the extension and wastewater treatment plant improvements, including 10 percent contingency, engineering fees, legal fees and easements is $1,608,263.
Menley explained how the proposed sludge filter and UV system work. They also discussed ADEQ regulations and requirements and the consequences if a city is out of compliance.
He said, “Basically, you will be be rebuilding the plant.”
Council members asked questions including if the work would need to be done in stages, if the present system would be fully operational during renovations, and how much of the total cost could be funded with a grant.
“We will have to do it now or later, but it has to be done. The sewer plant is 36 years old,” Robert Ballard, city utility supervisor, said.
Menley said they would submit plans and information to USDA and they would not know if any of the project would be funded by grant or if it would all be through a loan.
The need for sewer rate increases was also discussed. Menley said the average usage is 4,822 gallons with 743 users.
The existing rates is 0-1,800 gallons $9 and $1.35 per 1,000 over 1,800 gallons. The average bill for sewer is $13.07.
Menley offered a proposed rate increase could be 0-1,000 gallons $14 with $2.50 per 1,000 which would make the average sewer cost $23.56.
Revenue from the existing rates is $9,469.92. Revenue from the proposed increased rates is $17,057.44.
He said USDA will not set rate increases but the city will have to be able to show they can pay back a loan.
Menley pointed out towns have to keep their water and sewer revenue and expenses separate.
Councilwoman Teresa Johnson asked if the city would have to raise rates before they started on the application process.
Menley suggested waiting to see what would be needed.
“You do not want to have to raise rates twice,” he said.
A time frame was discussed. Menley said it would take about 45 days to make the revisions to the original project and then get the information to USDA, barring any environmental problems.
Buffalo Island Central Superintendent Gaylon Taylor addressed the council assuring them they did not take advantage of Leachville.
The question of a drain pipe from the new school construction running across the park to a ditch was discussed at the regular August council meeting. Council member Keith Evans had expressed concern about the possibility of water getting out of the ditch and onto the cemetery.
Superintendent Taylor said he had talked with former mayor, the late Ralph Wells, and had his blessing.
"I talked to Ralph because it is our responsibility to work with the cities," Taylor said. "If we have a strong community we have a strong school, and if we have a strong school we have a strong community."
He said they have always worked well together.
"We are requesting the city to let us place a storm drain across the park," Taylor said. "We are asking your blessing to continue with the project."
He said the pipe is underneath the foundation of the new school and there is a need to go across the park to the ditch. He said anything damaged would be repaired.
Taylor introduced John Mixon, architect and Mike Tarini, civil engineer with Cromwell.
Evans expressed his concerns again about the water getting onto the cemetery.
Mixon said the problem is getting the water out of the cemetery to the ditch.
Marilyn Looney, owner of the property where the drainage ditch is located, said the culvert is not large enough to handle more water.
"We've always allowed the city to use the ditch," she said, "with a verbal agreement the city maintains it."
She asked for a larger culvert to be put in and a continued agreement to maintain the ditch if they (the owners) allow the water to be piped to the ditch.
Looney said the farmer, the Lowery family, has put a lot of money on the ditch.
No easement has been given on the privately owned ditch.
Taylor said they do not want to put a burden on anyone.
"Right now we are going from the same track where the water has always flowed," he said.
Several options were discussed including the city or the school, or both, sharing the cost of putting in a larger culvert, and a possible easement needed for anyone who agrees to maintain it.
Interim Mayor Lisa Baldridge said the discussion began with the council not being informed.
"I have been on the city council for three years," she said. "You (the school) never came to the council meeting and then we hear you are cutting across the park."
Taylor said they thought all of the bases had been covered.
Councilman Evans also said no work can be done while the crops are in the field.
Trustee for the property, Candy Denny, said she would talk to the owners of the property and get back with the city officials.
After discussion, Taylor said the ditch is going to work.
Councilman Rodney Robertson said everything needs to be done legally so 20 or 30 years down the road there will not be any question.
"We will do everything in our power and I know the city will also to work together to move forward with the project," Taylor said.
A decision will be made at the Sept. 18 regular city council meeting.