Aug 17, 2007

Arkansas Governor Approves $33 Million Loan for Wastewater Project

Arkansas’s Governor Mike Beebe announced that the state will loan $33 million for construction of a regional wastewater treatment facility in Northwest Arkansas.

According to the Arkansas News Bureau the package will allow construction to begin immediately with a planned completion date of late 2009 or early 2010. The project also calls for the state to bear finance and interest costs for 3 1/2 years at a cost of about $4.3 million.

Currently, the regional center can treat 3.3 million gallons of wastewater a day and could be expanded later to up to 80 million gallons a day, which would be enough to treat wastewater for a population of 800,000 people or more.

Beebe told the Arkansas News Bureau that the project is a good example that economic development and protecting the environment go together. If the state were not to expand the wastewater treatment capacity, then it could stall economic growth in the region.

The planned plant should keep Arkansas rivers cleaner, as well as help avoid further conflicts with Oklahoma and Missouri. Currently, Arkansas' poultry industry is being sued in federal court in Oklahoma over water quality in the Illinois River.

Without the state funding, the monthly wastewater treatment bill would be $52 for an average household to build the plant. However, with state funding the number could be reduced by as much as $20.

The state Natural Resources Commission will issue bonds, possibly in numerous stages, as financing is needed for construction, according to commission director Randy Young said. The state will then loan the proceeds of the bond issues to the authority in a deferred loan agreement. The state will pay the interest and finance portion of the bond issue.