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[Archived] Basin Sewage District controversy

| Environment | January 12, 2013

A positive development in the prospect for a regional sewage treatment facility in northwest Arkansas. Tontitown may not go it alone!

Osage Basin to explore cooperation with other sewer district

By Trish Hollenbeck Northwest Arkansas Times

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2005

HIGHFILL — Exploring options to cooperate with the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority in the creation of a regional sewer system is now on the agenda of the Osage Basin Wastewater District.


Both entities currently operate separate programs to create the same thing: a regional wastewater treatment plant. 

The decision to explore options came Monday night during the latter part of an Osage Basin Wastewater District meeting that went into the late hours.

The Osage Basin District already has received a discharge permit from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to discharge into Osage Creek. Originally, the Osage Basin District consisted of four municipalities — Cave Springs, Highfill, Tontitown and Elm Springs. Elm Springs and Cave Springs dropped out, leaving Tontitown and Highfill to form the wastewater district. 

Eight area cities have joined the NWACA, an organization that intends to build a 5-million-gallons-per-day sewage treatment plant on a 472-acre site on Osage Creek. The current member cities are Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Elm Springs, Cave Springs, Bethel Heights, Lowell and Tontitown. 

Discussion of hiring an executive director for the Osage Basin district brought attention to issues with the conservation authority. Board members then reached a consensus to set up a meeting with the authority to discuss cooperation. 

Cassie Elliott, former recorder-treasurer for Highfill, has been working to obtain easements for sewer lines for the Osage Basin district and reportedly has been asked by Randy Young, executive director of the Arkansas Soil and Water Commission, which is working on financing for the Osage project, whether Osage and the authority would be working together.

NWACA wants to build a sewer plant upstream from the Osage Basin plant. The authority is also interested in developing a means to dispose of sludge for some of its member cities, such as Springdale and Rogers, which operate their own sewer plants.

 The Osage Basin district has discussed a sewer plant capable of treating 500,000 gallons of sewage per day on 23 acres west of Tontitown.

 The district obtained a construction permit Jan. 1. Under the permit, Osage must begin construction this year, but the project has been held up by an appeal of the permit, as well as a court action brought by Tontitown in Washington County Circuit Court to determine the legality of the Osage Basin board’s composition. 

On the legality issue, Fourth Circuit Judge Kim Smith has upheld the board’s composition by saying it is composed of three members from each of the three cities and should continue to meet. There were some questions raised in the suit about whether representation on the district board should be based on population and if Cave Springs, which had stopped attending meetings at one point, was still a member.

The appeal of the discharge and construction permits was filed in January by Theresa Pockrus, who owns land in the path of one of the district’s proposed sewage transmission lines. At the meeting Monday, it was noted that the state magistrate, who is assigned to decide on the appeal to the ADEQ, should issue a decision in the next couple of months.