BY MELANIE WADE –
Mena Water Utilities is eyeing the possibility of having to replace their clearwell at the Irons Fork Treatment Facility, a project that could cost upwards of $2 million.
In January 2016, a large crack was found in the well but was deemed not to be harmful to the water it houses by engineers from Craig L. Beckham Engineers (CLB) out of Texarkana, Ark. Mena Water Manager Charles Pitman said the structure is 27 years old and the crack is from natural wear through the years. Since then, water levels in the 600,000 gallon have been kept at a level below the crack, just under 450,000 gallons, so that water loss was not an issue.
At that time, options ranged from putting sealant in the crack, to placing a liner inside the well, to replacing the entire well. However, in the years since, the crack has grown larger, requiring its replacement. “It is past the point of sealant, it would cost a fortune and wouldn’t last as long as a liner. The liner is also no longer an option because it takes too many days to cure,” Pitman explained. “The only option that we can see that is feasible is to just replace it.”
Although the full estimated cost has not yet been determined, Pitman says it could cost around $2 million. At a meeting of the Mena Street Committee on Monday, January 29, Pitman updated City leadership and informed them that he would be seeking funding for the project. In order to keep the cost from being passed on to consumers, he hopes to secure state or federal funding. “The engineer is working on a more detailed engineering report that funding agencies would require… before you go ask them for money, they want to make sure this is all you need and that you have thought of all scenarios,” Pitman continued. “This is something that has to be done and we will exhaust all funding options before passing on the cost to the customers.”