The Hot Springs Village Public Services Committee met for a work session on Thursday, March 28, 2024. Public Services continues to improve and repair the water system. The Public Services Department is also working with Crist Engineering to design a plan to address low-flow issues for domestic and fire flow purposes. Design plans for the Cedar Creek Wastewater Treatment upgrade were discussed. Neither one of the two projects is in the final phase, and all plans are fluid.

On a sweet note, Committee Secretary John Sowers provided delicious homemade peanut butter cookies and brownies baked by his wife, Trudi.**

Meeting attendees

The committee members present were David Childs (Chair), Rolland White (Vice-chair), John Sowers (Secretary), Keith Buchanan, Philip Matone, George Parker, Jim Patton, Michael Riley, and Walt Black.

The Board Liaison present was Larry Siener.

The staff present included Ken Unger, Director of Public Services, and Chris Boutzale, Water and Wastewater Superintendent.

Guests attending the meeting were Brian Wintle of Crist Engineering and Bob Cunningham, former Board Member and former Public Services Committee Member.

Cortez Sewage Lift Station Project

Unger updated the committee on the Cortez Sewage Lift Station Project. The project is segmented into several bid requests, which will be sent out in the next few weeks. Depending on the bids, the POA may self-perform some work. Due to supply chain delays, the project may take until 2025 to complete.

Water update

Public Services continues to monitor and record water pressure with pressure loggers. Brian Wintle of Crist Engineering is using the data to design upgrades in the water system for both domestic and fire flow supply.

What is fire flow?

Fire flow is defined as the flow rate of a water supply, measured at 20 psi (137.9 kPa) residual pressure, available for the responding fire department to use for manual firefighting. Typically, this is water available at the surrounding fire hydrants.

Unger said many factors contribute to calculating fire flow ratings, including distances between structures, density of homes, etc. If an area has a fire flow rating below 500 gallons per minute (GPM), that is a problem. The Director said that phase one of his water system plan would be upgrading the low-rated fire flow areas.

Unger said the list of low-flow areas continues to grow as they accumulate more data.

Solving the problem with distribution (larger lines) or more storage has to be decided. Unger feels fewer tanks are better due to their vulnerability to damage, maintenance needs, etc. Installation of water tanks must be contracted, while it may be possible to self-perform the installation of lines.

Wintle said that water line capacity was the cause of most of the areas with 500 GPM or below water pressure.

Wintle is also evaluating the need for additional water storage tanks and a second clear well at the water plant (which would provide additional storage and help maintain the existing clear well). Unger feels it is important to install a second clear well.

Wastewater update

Wintle is focusing on redesigning the Cedar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to process up to four million gallons a day, averaging two million gallons a day.

Mill Creek Wastewater Plant will no longer process wastewater when the project is complete but may serve as a storage basin.

We will not relinquish the operating permit for Mill Creek until we are confident that Cedar Creek Plant works as expected.

Having the correct size Flow Equalization Basin is important for handling storm events. “A flow equalization basin (FEB) is a constructed storage feature used to capture and temporarily store peak stormwater flows. Water managers can move water from FEBs to Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) at steady rates to optimize STA performance and help achieve water quality improvement targets.”

Another way to think of FEB is “wet weather storage.”

Inflow and Infiltration (I and I), which occur during storm events, continue to be addressed. Reducing I and I helps prevent overflows.

While some overflows during a rain event may be inevitable [Act of God], the goal is to have as few as possible.

Unger believes we should use anaerobic treatment processes and fewer chemicals. Currently, we rely heavily on volatile and expensive chemicals. He wants to reduce the impact of golf course chemicals entering the sewage system.

We use extended aeration, which generates less sludge that needs to be taken to the landfill. However, extended aeration uses more electricity than conventional aeration. Sludge disposal is more economical in this area than in other parts of the country. The less expensive option is to use conventional aeration and transport the sludge to the landfill.

The breakroom and laboratory testing room will be in separate buildings. (They are housed together now, which is not ideal.)

Unger said, “My goal is to keep the plan as flexible as possible.”

Public Services work needs to continue to catch up backlog

Boutzale said, “Since Ken [Unger] and Kelly [Hale] have been in office, we have done more for our water and sewer system than we have in my career. We used to do $250,000 worth of I and I every year until Scott Randal* came when the economy downturned. That money wasn’t afforded to us anymore. From then until recently, we haven’t done any I and I work. When we were doing it every year, we slowed the I and I down. When you stop doing the I and I, you are so far behind that you can’t wade your way out.”

Siener said, ” Unless we have some significant revenue source we can develop, we’re probably at a high water mark right now. We are looking at options and alternatives at the board level. You’ve seen something in the Voice about changing our formula on how much our assessments can increase. We are going to have to take a really hard look at it. We need to stay about where we are right now and need to be able to continue to fund Public Services at the levels we are now for five or six more years to get caught up. And that’s not going to catch us all the way up. But hopefully, that gets us caught up enough that we can start to see the [indecipherable] point in the curve.”

The next work meeting will be dedicated to “revelations from the storm.”

*Boutzale is not blaming Scott Randal but merely mentions him as a time marker.

Featured image: Crist Engineer Brian Wintle discusses water and wastewater system upgrades with the Public Services Committee.

Hot Springs Village Public Services Committee Discuss Water and Sewer Plans with Crist Engineering
On a light note, Vice-chair Rolland White jokes about evaporated water.
Hot Springs Village Public Services Committee Discuss Water Sewer Plans Sweet Treats
**Secretary John Sowers’ wife, Trudi, baked sweets for the committee meeting.

By Cheryl Dowden


Ken Unger
Director Public Services
Hot Springs Village

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