The Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility Commission heard an engineer Monday discuss projects to upgrade underground pipes and other infrastructure. GarNat Engineering President Vernon Williams gave an update to the commission on three projects. He discussed a project involving a cured in place process in which contractors place new lines in dilapidated pipes that are leaking. This is a continuation of routine maintenance and will not disrupt customers.


Insituform Technologies submitted a bid of $384,000 to beat three other firms on this project, he said.


“It’s really one of the few instances in which you pay less and get a better product,” Williams said. “Because of competition and the expertise that these companies have developed, it is cheaper to go in and line a six-inch pipe or an eight-inch pipe than it is to put a new one in the ground.”


“Another huge advantage is that it is one continuous pipe,” Williams said. “It’s not like a PVC pipe that has a joint every 20 feet that can leak. A second advantage is you don’t have to dig a hole and put a new pipe in the ground.”


Commissioner Lloyd Holcomb Sr. asked Williams if the size of the pipe is reduced through the process of coating the pipe. Williams said yes that is reduced by about one-eighth or one-fourth of an inch, yet the process increases the pipe’s hydraulic capacity.


“You can generally expect to get 50 or 60 percent more flow from that pipe,” Williams said.


Insituform has already started working. In related news, utility general manager Ken Johnson discussed a project to fix existing manholes by applying a new epoxy coating to prevent excess water from entering the pipes. CTR Coatings of Knoxville, Tennessee, submitted a winning bid of $71,500 and will commence work on Aug. 25, Johnson said.


This procedure gives the manholes more structural integrity and has succeeded previously in Pine Bluff and other towns, Johnson said. It is less expensive than replacing the manholes, he said.


Williams agreed.


“Ken and his staff have done a great job of getting out in front of sewer rehab,” Williams said. “A lot of cities wait until the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is breathing down their neck and they have to issue a consent administrative order before they go out, do the kinds of studies to figure out what needs to be repaired.”


The third project involves removing plant roots from the sewer system. Duke’s Root Control of Syracuse, New York, won this project by submitting a bid of $18,400 and has already completed this project, Johnson said.


The utility implemented a rate increase beginning in 2015 and continuing through 2017, generating an additional $1,650,000. This money will pay for capital projects, along with funding improvements at the Boyd Point Treatment Plant. Other money will be used to increase the operations and maintenance expenses for aging equipment dating back to 1888.


In separate project news, Johnson gave an update on a project to build a new sewage pump station at a cost of $2 million near Taylor Phillips Road. The utility is paying Crist Engineering $380,000 to do studies to evaluate the system capacity, evaluate the ideal location of a new pump station and to look at operational demands that will be placed on the new station, he said.


“It is an overall extensive engineering evaluation,” Johnson said. “They have taken real-time data during wet periods that we experienced in May and June. And they know exactly what type of flow and impact is being placed upon the system.”


In Summit Poultry news, utility environmental compliance officer Vincent Miles said he sees the company has opened for business in Pine Bluff. Miles said the company appears to be operating sporadically.


In January, Summit paid $15,894.37 of which $14,644.37 was outstanding debt and $1,250 was for a permit. Summit agreed to pay a remaining $15,247.07 in 12 monthly installments. Summit will not have to pay another $10,000 of the more than $41,000 in original debt. Johnson said the utility sent a bill last week to Summit for the first of the monthly installments. It is due within 30 days, he said.


“We are anxiously waiting what is due to Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility from the standpoint of past debt,” Johnson said. “We have to be very equitable on how we treat all these industries in Pine Bluff. Summit Poultry is a significant industrial user, as is Tyson, as is Aramark. We will treat all industries fairly based upon the services we provide for them.”


Commissioners Lafayette Woods Jr., Carolyn Ferguson and Holcomb approved the utility’s June financial report showing revenue of $622,162.21 and expenses of $453,176.55. Commissioners Vandora Demery and Paul Bennett were absent.