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Jacksonville briefed on possible water utility contract with LRAFB

Commissioners of the Jacksonville City Water Utility Board were briefed on Feb. 14 about the department’s planned acquisition of water utility lines from the Little Rock Air Force Base.

The study given to commissioners was prepared by Garver Engineering; Tetra Tech; and Wright, Lindsey and Jennings LLP.

Commissioners were told if Jacksonville takes acquisition of the lines, it would be taking on an additional 236,416 linear feet. Currently, the utility has 1.17 million linear feet of line.

The department also would be taking on 1.35 million gallons of water storage capacity to increase from its current level of 9.25 million gallons of water storage capacity. Commissioners were advised that the 9.25 million figure does not include a new tank that is being built.

The Little Rock Air Force Base would be transferring responsibility of 412 fire hydrants to the Jacksonville Water Utility, to increase the number of hydrants it has from the current level of 800.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the utility serves about 29,000 residents and would add an additional 12,000 people if it acquires the LRAFB system.

Water usage would increase an estimated 450,000 gallons of water daily, up from the current consumption of 3.86 million gallons per day.

Commissioners were advised that the project is currently in the negotiation phase between LRAFB and the water utility. While the project is on the fast track to be approved it is expected the transition will take an estimated 12 months.

“We are told this is on a fast track and could take months,” the study reported to commissioners.

The project currently is in the investigations stage with the water system currently undergoing a detailed investigation in areas including a water audit, vale inventory, hydrant testing and system hydraulic modeling.

The Jacksonville Water Utility currently is reviewing staffing, equipment, and office procedures in preparations for the transfer.

If Jacksonville acquires the management of the system, the city can expect to sign a contract that would last 50 years.

“JWW (Jacksonville) assumes operation of the system under the terms of the contract,” according to the study. “The contract is the “go to” source for the operation policies and procedures.”

Commissioners were told that the contract must possess terms that the Jacksonville Water Utility can accept.

Portions of the proposal to be worked out include: transition costs, renewal and replacement, Initial System Deficiencies and Corrections, and operations and maintenance.

The transition costs would cover upfront costs required to fully investigate the system, hire necessary personnel and obtain clearance to work on the base, set up office procedures for managing the contract.

An estimated transition time would be about 12 months with the transition cost fixed so that Jacksonville must act to keep costs within the contract amount, according to the report.

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