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With development moving south in Richmond, infrastructure issues are starting to get in the way of the development.
One of the biggest obstacles for new business is the undersized and eroding South Wastewater treatment plant. According to Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall, the plant is processing about 450,000 gallons of wastewater a day.
Adding to the problem on the south end is the city of Henrietta, which is hooked into the Richmond system. Storm water run off can cause the plant to overflow releasing solids into the stream systems. When that happens, a city can get into hot water with the Department of Natural Resources.
Goodall said a 6-inch rain earlier this summer accounted for 300,000 extra gallons of waste just from Henrietta. Goodall said he thinks it has cost Henrietta about $3,000 for that rainstorm. He said a simple 1-inch rainstorm could produce an extra 75,000 gallons from the south.
Engineering Services Inc. representatives were in town yesterday to discuss what it would take to add 750,000 to 1 million more gallons of capacity to the plant, which would more than quadruple capacity. Goodall said it doesn’t make much sense to just add another 250,000 gallons.
“If we’re going to go that far to build something down there,” Goodall said during the meeting. “I don’t think we’re going to gain much by doing just 250,000.”
Another concern with the area is the erosion that is taking place. The current plant sits on the top of a hillside. Recently a 12-by-12 foot sinkhole developed on the side of the hill. City Administrator Rick Childers said he would like to see the hill stable first.
With the expansion, ESI President Philip Humbard said about 18,000 to 20,000 yards of dirt would probably have to be moved. He also said an additional 10 acres of land would also have to be purchased for the expansion. Humbard said that he thinks the current structure is on solid ground and that fill dirt was used around the area. He said the thinks it has more to do with the soil type.
“Every underpass you go under, all of the concrete on the bottom has moved,” Humbard said. “It’s probably your basic soil types around here. They probably don’t have a lot of cohesion to them and they have a tendency to move on you. It’s the material above and around that is moving.”
Humbard said part of the plan would require excavating current soil and replacing it with something more stable.
Another option the city is also looking at is a regional wastewater facility. Neighboring cities like Hardin and Orrick could also be looking for a solution. Humbard said his company has designed two regional facilities that were built in Arkansas.
Childers said it might be difficult to run waste lines as far as 10 miles like the city would have to do in that situation. Humbard said that is not a problem.
“Ten miles, is not something we can’t overcome,” he said.
Estimates for the expansion would be more than $3.6 million, which is much lower than earlier estimates of $12 million. The city currently still pays an $88,000 bond each year on the South Plant.