Members meet to launch financing plan
By Lori Harrison-Stone
The NW Arkansas Morning News
ROGERS -- They don't have the funding and don't own the land.
But members of the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority are confident they will build a regional wastewater treatment plant anyway.
Members of the authority's Finance Committee met for the first time Monday to launch a plan for financing a regional wastewater treatment plant, transmission lines for collecting the wastewater and a plant for handling biosolids.
"What can we do to get more confidence in NACA?" asked committee member George Spence.
Spence said he's heard rumors that the authority will never get its regional wastewater treatment facility built.
Donnie Moore, chairman of the Conservation Authority's board of directors, said state officials want to see a regional facility built and the only thing that's going to halt the plan would be a "bunch of infighting" among authority members. That hasn't been a problem, he said.
Moore said the financing has to be worked out with or without government grants to help build the infrastructure needed. He suggested that plans be made as if there isn't going to be any grant money. Then, when grants are awarded, he said, adjustments can be made.
Once the wastewater treatment plant is built, the authority will immediately have to start expansion plans because of more interest that will come, he predicted. Plans are, Moore said, to build a 5 million gallon capacity plant. Needs of the existing member cities are at 2.5 million gallon daily capacity, but that will go up once the plant is built and more interest is raised, he said.
"We need to stop talking about this like whether this is going to happen. We need to proceed like it is going to happen," Spence said. "It's got to happen."
John Sampier, who serves as the authority's executive director, said some presentations will be made to more of the smaller cities in Benton and Washington counties to generate interest. Cave Springs Mayor Thekla Wallis said those cities will want to know "the bottom line" and how they can become members.
"We're under way, we're simply taking care of the details, pursuing the financing," Sampier said.
Monday's meeting was the first for the newly formed committee of the authority. The group approved Chris Weiser of Springdale as its chairman. The committee also agreed to meet in the week prior to the June 16 meeting of the authority's board of directors to hear reports on financing options from a bonding company and the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission.