Mountainburg gets $50,000 for investigation of proposed water project

MOUNTAINBURG – A town in the River Valley has received much-needed help in its mission to bring clean water service to approximately 625 households.

On June 1, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Arkansas Natural Resources Commission awarded Mountainburg a $50,000 Cultural Resources Survey Grant for its Central Water System Project. -northern Crawford County, according to a news release. It was one of nine water and wastewater projects and four technical assistance programs for which the commission approved more than $35.4 million.

Mayor Susan Wilson said the city needs to conduct this cultural resources survey to get the money needed to complete the water project from various agencies, including the Arkansas Commission of Natural Resources and the U.S. Department. of farming. Van Buren-based Hawkins-Weir Engineers estimated the project would cost $12.4 million.

Wes LeMonier of Hawkins-Weir Engineers said completing an environmental review of the project area is one of the requirements for applying for money through the Water Disposal Loans and Grants program. and waste from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“In doing so, we have to send cross-agency environmental correspondence, and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is one of those agencies,” LeMonier said.

LeMonier said the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program requested that a cultural resources survey be conducted during the review to ensure items such as artifacts and historic sites will not be disturbed by the project. Another part of the review will ensure that the project will not affect threatened and endangered wildlife species or their habitats.

Flat Earth Archeology of Cabot will conduct the cultural resource survey, according to LeMonier. It will take about two months to complete. It should take about a month for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and interested Native American tribes to review the report. The survey will be permitted pending approval of the $50,000 grant from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Wilson said the city applied for the grant in May.

The project

Households in a certain part of Crawford County — between Mountainburg and Cedarville — from Washington County’s southern edge to Rudy, are not served by any water supply system, Wilson said. Residents who want water for drinking, cleaning or other purposes must either get it from wells or haul it in from an outside source, such as the city’s water treatment plant. Fort Smith Lake. Mountainburg buys water from Fort Smith.

The water infrastructure project was developed by a committee of concerned owners and Hawkins-Weir engineers, according to Wilson.

LeMonier said the project would add 68 miles of pipe from the city’s water distribution system to households in the affected area in a single phase.

Wilson said residents will be connected to the water system during the project.

Financing needs and agreements

Wilson said the investigation and other requirements must be completed before Mountainburg can apply for project funding.

This includes additional audits, as well as a public meeting to educate residents about the project and some of its history. The meeting, which took place at 6 p.m. Monday at Mountainburg High School and was mandated by the Department of Agriculture, was also intended to provide residents with an avenue to voice concerns and ask questions about the project.

Wilson said the city will submit its grant application package to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Commission in October.

The Crawford County Quorum Court approved the allocation of $2.5 million from the county’s U.S. bailout fund for the project on March 21. The order outlining the allocation states that the money will remain in the fund until the project is fully funded and construction has begun. It will revert to the county’s US bailout committee for redistribution if the project is not fully funded by Nov. 30.

The city plans to take out a loan when the project is complete to cover final expenses, according to Wilson. The loan is tentatively set at around $1.8 million at this time.

Mountainburg is also still in the process of getting 400 signed agreements with water users and matching deposits of $100 from landowners in the affected area. Wilson established the requirement to show funding agencies that the water project would be sustainable if they approved funding for it. Deposits of $100, which are included in the total cost of the project, will serve as participants” proposed /”buy-in” for construction if funded.

Wilson said the city received 347 agreements Tuesday. County residents who do not sign a user agreement and provide a bond will have to pay a $2,500 tap fee if they want their property connected to the water project.

Wilson said Mountainburg is scheduled to hold its next public meeting on the project at 6 p.m. Aug. 1 at City Hall. She plans to upload the information presented at Monday’s meeting, along with details of future meetings and a frequently asked questions page about the project, to the city’s website.

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