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Board approves property purchase

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The Hot Springs Board of Directors expanded the footprint of the Ouachita Water Treatment Plant on upper Lake Hamilton Tuesday night, approving a contract to purchase 4.53 acres adjacent to the plant's Cozy Acres Road location.

The $113,450 acquisition will be the site for new switchgear controlling the plant's four high-service pumps that push treated water into a distribution system serving a 145-square-mile area. A generator that powers the pumps in the event of a power outage will also be controlled by the new equipment.

"Those high-service pumps are very critical," Monty Ledbetter, the city's utilities director, said. "Without them, we can't pump water to town."

The $20 million bond issue the board approved earlier this year will pay for the roughly $4 million switchgear project. The board awarded a $298,250 to Crist Engineers Inc. last month to design the switchgear and oversee its installation. Ledbetter said Thursday it will take about six months for the manufacturer to build the gear box to the city's specifications.

It will be built off site and located on the property the board approved purchase of Tuesday night. Stone Appraisal Services Inc. valued the parcel at $115,000.

"Everywhere we wanted to put it was on top of a waterline, 36 inches or 42 inches," Ledbetter, explaining why the switchgear cannot be located on the plant's existing footprint, told the board last week. "This is a very important piece of equipment. We didn't want to locate it right on top of one of those big lines.

"We were going to have to put it in an area we already own, but it was farther away and it was going to cost us probably $100,000 to run the electrical lines to it and back to the generator. The new location is within 30 or 40 feet of the existing gear box that we're replacing, so it made sense for us to purchase the piece of property and put the switchgear box there."

The property, located east of the plant on the other side of Cozy Acres, also gives the city the option to expand the plant, Ledbetter said. Backwash ponds holding treated water that has been used to clean the plant's filters need to be enlarged, Ledbetter said. The new property could accommodate that.

The city has a permit through the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to discharge the backwash into Glazypeau Creek, which empties downstream of the plant intake on upper Lake Hamilton. Ledbetter said the city gets credited for returning the backwash to the lake, reducing withdrawal fees Arkansas Entergy Inc. assesses.

Per the withdrawal agreement, the city can take up to 30 million gallons a day but is restricted to a 20-mgd average calculated over a rolling 90-day period. The Arkansas Department of Health has assigned the Ouachita Plant a 21-mgd rating.

Local on 08/10/2018

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