Turrell working on fix for sewer pond
Mayor, council hoping for ANRC grant
Turrell has passed a resolution to get its water department finances in order in order for them to apply for another round of grant funding needed to help fix its sewer pond.
The council met in a special meeting on April 18 to address a number of concerns which were raised by Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
ANRC has already given the city $100,000 to replace a generator on its water pump, and $50,000 to build a bridge to get to the sewer pond. But the city still needs about another $250,000 to fix all of the problems with the sewer pond.
“We needed to come together and agree to the things they needed us to do in order to receive more money to fix the pond,” Mayor Dorothy Cooper said. “So the resolution we passed will show them what we are going to do to rectify the problem.”
The sewer pond has been neglected for about a decade and is in need of repair because it is currently not draining properly. Also, the bridge to the pond was removed around 2009 because it was falling down and the city has had to use private property to get to it. The city tried to do some work on the pond last summer but the fields were too muddy and the levee is too unstable to handle the weight of heavy equipment. The drain pipe is clogged and will need to be cleaned out with a backhoe and will also need several loads of gravel to fix the levee.
Cooper said ANRC sent the city a letter outlining seven things they needed to do before the agency was willing to consider giving them any more money.
Among the conditions are that the city must put a water meter on the well; put money collected for water and sewer in a separate account; upgrade its accounting software; and list vendors that the city does business with by name on its billing reports; and get current on a past ANRC loan which is delinquent.
Cooper said ANRC is also requiring the city to demand payment of $26,500 from Jericho which that city owes for hooking in to its sewer system.
“There was a contract made back in 1998 between Turrell and Jericho where Turrell would allow Jericho to be connected to our sewer,” Cooper said. “Jericho had a certain number of years to pay it off. Those years have passed and they haven’t kept up their end of the bargain.”
Cooper said Jericho has been making payments of $5000, but ANRC wants that loan collected.
“They said we need that money. And we do,” Cooper said. “I have not sent a letter yet. But we have got to do that. That is what they are telling us we need to do.”
Cooper said the city has also been assessed a $20,000 fine by Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality for the deficiencies at its sewer pond.
“They were warned before I got here and told they were going to be fined if they didn’t take action,” Cooper said. “They have been patient with us and are trying to work with us.
They know we don’t have $20,000. But they had to fine us.”
Cooper said she is hopeful that ANRC will come through with the remaining $250,000 to fix the problems once and for all.
ANRC will meet in May to hear funding applications.
“I am thankful to them for all that they have already done to help us,” Cooper said. “There are so many cities that need help and the fact that Turrell is even on that list I am grateful for.
They have been helpful the entire process to help us get in compliance. We needed to get this resolution in quickly because it shows that Turrell is serious about needing its help.”
By Mark Randall