by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Sierra Club and Little Rock Wastewater announced today they have jointly agreed to extend the current settlement agreement to 2023. This extension will give Little Rock Wastewater additional time to reevaluate the projects and programs needed to effectively mitigate sewer overflows within our city in the most efficient manner possible. While Little Rock Wastewater has made significant progress in reducing rain and non-rain related sewer overflows through a combination of infrastructure improvements and a strong community education plan, there is still work to be done.
Richard Mays Jr., Chair of the Little Rock Sanitary Sewer Committee said “We worked with the Sierra Club in partnership to continue the program by five years. This will allow us to develop community outreach programs and renew the city's collection system in a way that is more effective while being cognizant of the financial burden on our residents.”
The work that remains to be done involves additional measures to control the excessive rain water entering the sewer system during large rain events. This extension of time will allow Little Rock Wastewater to work with the Sierra Club and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to identify and implement improvements to our infrastructure that will better serve the residents and protect our environment. The Sierra Club has been supportive of the progress already made. The plan for extending time and continuing the program was filed today with the federal court for its review and approval.
Glen Hooks, Director of the Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club, said “While much work remains, Sierra Club is pleased with the steady progress made by LRW to-date. Sanitary system overflows have dropped significantly and we are optimistic that the planned upgrades will improve health and safety throughout Little Rock. Sierra Club will continue to monitor progress toward satisfying the terms of the settlement.”
Little Rock Wastewater continues to have a strong working relationship with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) on a similar extension to their Consent Administrative Order to control sanitary sewer overflows in the city.
Becky Keogh, Director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said "Little Rock Wastewater has made great strides in recent years to control sanitary sewer overflows and we look forward to seeing continued improvements as they move forward with their partnership with the Sierra Club."
Since the beginning of this settlement agreement, Little Rock Wastewater’s enhanced collection system, operation and maintenance efforts and community education has resulted in over an 80 percent reduction of sewer overflows in the city.
City of Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said " I am pleased with the aggressive community outreach plan combined with the implementation of an infrastructure improvement program executed by Little Rock Wastewater. They have made tremendous strides in reducing rain and non-rain related sewer overflows, working cooperatively with the Sierra Club to protect our environment. This partnership over the next eight years is an important and critical step in responsible public stewardship."
Little Rock Wastewater serves over 68,000 customers, maintains 1,400 miles of collection system pipelines and treats over 40 million gallons of wastewater a day.