The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has announced settlement of a lawsuit against the Marble Falls sewer improvement district whose leaky sewer system has threatened a Buffalo River tributary with pollution. Part of the deal is almost $300,000 in state Highway and Transportation Department money to build a sewer main.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has reached an agreement with the Marble Falls Water, Sewer and Solid Waste Suburban Improvement District (SID). The agreement has terms designed to stop pollution from a wastewater treatment plant into a tributary of the Buffalo National River. It was signed by the judge in the case this morning. The case was set to go to trial September 21st.
The existing collection and treatment systems serving Marble Falls were designed in the late 1960’s. In recent decades, the system has fallen into disrepair and has been found to be in violation of the ADEQ regulations numerous times. Most recently, the district experienced a major failure of their primary lift station. The failure occurred during the ice storm in early 2009, and raw sewage discharged into Mill Creek. ADEQ later filed a lawsuit against the district to bring their wastewater system into compliance.
“This is a very difficult situation in that we have a residential area that needs sewer services and does not have the financial resources at this time to fully address the problems with their current system.” said ADEQ Director Teresa Marks. “However, our concern is that water quality is protected. We think the SID has addressed the immediate problem and provisions in the agreement will address the long term situation.”
In the agreement, Marble Falls SID agrees to complete installation of Phase I by May 31, 2011. As part of the first phase, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) has agreed to provide up to $292,307 to construct a new sewer main. AHTD has expanded its right-of-way which encompasses several hundred feet of the existing sewer main. Marble Falls SID will also install a new lift station and make any emergency repairs as part of Phase 1.
In addition, Marble Falls SID will complete Phase II by December 31, 2011. Phase II includes sewer line and manhole rehabilitation.
The agreement also states that it is the responsibility of the district to acquire the funding for the projects and that lack of funds will not excuse Marble Falls from meeting the terms of the agreement. ADEQ fully intends to continue to monitor the situation.