A safe and reliable source of potable water is something many of us take for granted. Without proper foresight and planning, population growth and drought can leave entire communities in a water crisis. In an effort to regionalize water and ensure the future availability of water in the area, the Cities of Lavaca and Charleston, Arkansas partnered with the RiverSouth Rural Water District (RWD) to form the Franklin Sebastian Public Water Authority (FSPWA). The City of Lavaca purchased all of their water from the City of Fort Smith, the City of Charleston produced its own water, and the RiverSouth RWD purchased all of its water from the City of Ozark, Arkansas. All three utilities were in need of supplemental water, the need of which was magnified during the drought period between the years of 2005 and 2007. Water rationing was implemented by all utilities and the City of Charleston had to install quick lay pipe and pump water from a secondary water source to maintain water in their reservoir.
In addition to the complexities of working with multiple utilities in partnership and the development of a water purchase agreement with the City of Fort Smith, the procurement of funding for the Project was a major hurdle that had to be overcome. This was accomplished by the devotion and determination of those on the FSPWA Board, the help of local lawmakers, and through the hard work of those with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC). In conjunction with Atkins Engineering, Hawkins-Weir Engineers prepared engineering reports, funding applications, plans, and specifications required to meet the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) deadline for a “Shovel Ready” project.
The FSPWA Project included the construction of approximately 13.5 miles of water line ranging in size from 12 to 24 inches in diameter. The project also included the construction of a pump station, sodium hypochlorite generator, multiple master meter sites, and a 2.0-million gallon precast prestressed concrete water storage tank. The FSPWA is now a wholesale water supplier to each of the three independently operated utilities.