Upgrading Sewer System Could Triple Fort Smith Customers’ Bills By 2026

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) – The average Fort Smith water and sewer bill may triple over the next 12 years to bring the city in compliance with federal clean water laws, city officials said Tuesday night at the Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting.

While city directors are scheduled to set definitive rate structures in the coming months, projections of the city plan shows an average increase from $40 to $80 for the average local household’s water and sewer bill by 2019. The projections show that number tripling to $120 by 2026.

The water and sewer rate increase would cover the costs needed to bring the city into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. It would go toward upgrading and maintaining improvements to the city’s sewer system, city officials said.

The total cost of the plan may reach $480 million over the next 12 years. Definitive numbers may be approved by city directors in the spring of 2015.

City administrators have been meeting with members of the Environmental Protection Agency over the last few months to craft a plan to get the city in compliance with the Clean Water Act, after the EPA alleged Fort Smith broke several aspects of the federal law.

City administrators have been working with the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA over the last eight years in order to comply with the federal Clean Water Act after environmental officials complained of sewage overflows during episodes of heavy rainfall because of the city’s decades-old sanitation system.

The wet weather overflows of sewage in Fort Smith are caused by rainwater entering the sewer system through defected manholes and underground pipes. The rainwater overwhelms the capacity of the sewer system, causing untreated sewage to overflow from the system, according to the city.

Initial negotiations over the city’s compliance with federal laws broke down two months ago, causing officials to prepare in September and October for a lawsuit that never came. Negotiations later picked back up between the two entities, and now city leaders say they are doing everything they can to fix the overflow system and follow the law.

12 comments

  • AH

    The high price that kids will have to pay to get into the water park should cover it. They need a reason to pass it on to us!!

    • Arkajun

      Maybe they could just divert the overflow for use in the waterpark….Beat the hect out of a $120 mo water bill.

  • Sean

    Glad I’ll be gone before the summer is over. The only thing a dump like that has going for it is affordable living. Somewhere along the way they decided they can charge 3rd rate prices for a 9th rate “city”.

  • not the mama

    I was thinking of buying in the city to be closer to emergency services, but I can’t afford to pay more for sewer than groceries, but the great leaders can’t wait ti spend more millions on nature trails that are mostly unused!

    • Sean

      You’d be better off just driving yourself to the hospital. Fort Smith is a terrible community. Start of with the sewage tainted water and then look at the 3rd world education Ft Smith Public Schools offers. The medical care is atrocious from my experience, and finally we get to the corruption in the judicial system. Run, don’t walk, but run away from Ft Smith. I’ve lived here 12 years and after learning exactly what kind of filth pervades this area, I’ve made plans to get the h out.

  • noraizdaiz

    So instead of the City Fathers padding their pockets for years, why didn’t they put it back into the city instead of their fancy houses. Yep, I’m with you Sean, after 12 years here in this place and have seen what goes on, I’m getting the H out of this dump just as soon as the house sells.

    • arnold fudpucker

      Well don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out. Take Sean with you while you are at lit btw.

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