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Jacksonville Wastewater: 17th year without a permit violation

The city of Jacksonville’s wastewater utility experienced its 17th year in a row without a permit violation in 2012.

Joan Zumwalt, chairwoman of the Jacksonville Wastewater Commission, submitted the board’s annual 2012 report to Mayor Gary Fletcher in January.

“We are pleased to report that the J. Albert Johnson Regional Treatment Facility experienced zero permit violations for the 17th consecutive year,” Zumwalt wrote Fletcher. “There are few facilities which can claim such a feat and we are honored that Jacksonville is in such an elite group.”

Zumwalt reported several projects that the sewer utility undertook in 2012.

She said the utility relocated sewer lines on Graham Road to allow for the road’s expansion to four lanes. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department accomplished the road widening.

The utility also constructed three miles of new sewer interceptor lines, with a significant portion of those lines going through the Southern Oaks Golf Course.

“This allowed for the retirement of four pump stations: Northeastern P.S., Foxwood P.S., Loop Road P.S., and Pinion P.S. and for growth to the north of the city,” according to Zumalt.

Major upgrades were done to the treatment plant which did away with chlorine disinfection and replaced it with ultraviolent disinfection, making the plant completely chemical free.

“We also replaced three primary pumps and other significant pieces of equipment,” Zumwalt said. “We managed to make all the changes without a permit violation.”

The system also accepted 37,613 feet of new main lines, 15,484 feet of force main, 131 manholes and five new pump stations with the Valentine-Wooten Road sewer project.

“That’s a total of 10 miles of sewer,” she said. “This will allow 150-180 customers access to much-needed sanitary sewer services, to replace failing septic systems and to the major portion of a 21-year project. All that is remaining is the connection of the private service lines.”

Zumwalt said the utility is currently upgrading the existing Valentine Pump Station to make it large enough to handle the additional flow. “This requires a new 18-foot wet wall, vault, and installation of new, larger pumps,” she said.

Over the past several years, and several millions of dollars spent rehabilitating the collection system, that project is paying off, she added.

“Post-rehab flow results indicate a 29 to 63 percent reduction (since 2008) in inflow/infiltration in the five basins where rehab has been focused,” Zumwalt said. “Industry standards accept 30 percent reduction in I/I as a success. Based on these standards, JWU has been a huge success rate.”

The utility completed a time-consuming process of providing necessary documentation to renew both its discharge and solid waste permits with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

“These are five-year permits which require a year-long renewal process occurring every four years,” she said.

The utility is also completing a detailed proposal for the Defense Logistics Agency for the privatization of the sewage collection system located at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

“DLA will review the proposal and negotiate its contents,” Zumwalt said. “If the project is awarded to JWU, a significant bond issue backed by the federal government may be required. This will in no way obligate the city of Jacksonville’s funds or Jacksonville Wastewater Utility’s funds. Citizens of Jacksonville will not fund this project with their sewer rates or city taxes, but the bond issue will require city council approval.”

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