BY MELANIE BUCK –
In late January, engineers from Craig L. Beckham Engineers (CLB) out of Texarkana, Arkansas, inspected a 600,000 gallon clearwell at Mena Water Utilities at Iron’s Fork Lake and found a large crack in the concrete structure.
Water Utilities Manager Charles Pittman said the structure is 27 years old and the crack is from natural wear from over the years. Since the crack has been found, plant operators have begun filling the well to just 450,000 gallons to keep from losing any water through the space. Pittman said the engineers said that the structure is still sound and the ground is not shifting, it is truly just natural wear and tear. Engineers also said the crack does not affect the quality or distribution of the water. The only difference at the plant is that they have to run it a little more because they are unable to hold many gallons in storage due to the crack.
CLB is currently searching for options to fix the structure. They have performed work for Mena Water Utilities in the past and are currently working on sludge pads where new geotubes will sit at the sewage plant.
“A study is currently being done to provide us with options. Those options will range from putting sealant in the crack, to placing a liner inside the well, to replacing the whole thing,” said Pittman. When presented with the options the Mena Water Commission decide which to choose and depending on how they have to pay for it, it may have to go through city council.
The study is expected to be complete in 45-60 days, close to the end of March. In the meantime, Pittman said consumers should have no concerns on the quality or distribution of their water. “It is really not affecting the company or water,” he said.
Also in water utility news, during the management team report of the most recent Mena Water Utilities Commission meeting, Pitman explained the annual retail water rate increase. Each year the increase is based on the Consumer Price Index and this year, rates were increased by 0.7%, equaling .02 cents per 1,000 gallons. Pitman said the average bill would increase approximately .11 cents per month.
The next Mena Water Utility Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 22, 2016 at 5 p.m. in the Mena Water Utility Board Room.