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BENTONVILLE -- The continuing population growth in Northwest Arkansas is pushing cities and other entities to consider basic needs, including a growing need for water.

Centerton has plans for a 3 million-gallon water storage tank coming before the Benton County Planning Board. The new water tank would be on Arkansas 72, outside the city, according to the city's site plan application.

Regional water

In 1992 Benton/Washington Regional Public Water Authority was originally founded as Benton/Washington County Water Association. In September 1996 construction was under way for the water treatment facility and in May 1999 it was producing drinking water for the rural communities in Northwest Arkansas. The authority has a 24 million gallons per day treatment plant drawing water from Beaver Lake and has four water storage locations — 12.5 million gallons in Decatur; 5 million gallons in Lincoln; just under 900,000 gallons in Garfield; and 3.5 million gallons in Centerton.

Source: Benton Washington Regional Public Water Authority

Derek Linn, senior county planner, said the tank plan will be initially reviewed by the Planning Board on Wednesday and then be the subject of a public hearing at the board's Sept. 19 meeting.

Frank Holzkamper with the Centerton Water Utilities told the county the city is outgrowing its water storage capacity. He said residential growth spiked after the Bentonville School District announced the new high school would be in Centerton, and it hasn't slowed.

"Centerton's water usage is approaching 3 million gallons a day," Holzkamper said during a review of the project by the county's Development Review Committee. "We need to have at least a day's backup. We don't have even that now."

Holzkamper said the city has about 2.1 million gallons of storage capacity and its daily water use regularly tops 2.5 million. He said the state Health Department recommends having a storage capacity equal to at least one day's use in the event of an emergency that interrupts water supply. The new water tank has an estimated cost of about $4.8 million. Holzkamper said the water utility hopes to break ground on the project by the end of this year.

"With Centerton growing so fast, we've fallen behind the curve." he said.

Centerton has been growing rapidly for many years, according to Jeff Hawkins with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission. Hawkins said information from the U.S. Census shows the city's population in 2000 was 2,146. A July 2017 Census report showed the city with a population of 14,001, he said. The city's population should now be around 15,000 assuming sustained growth over the last year.

"That area, from the interstate and then west toward the regional airport, is really growing," he said.

Scott Borman is general manager for the Benton Washington Regional Public Water Authority, which supplies Centerton and other customers with water from Beaver Lake. Borman said Centerton has been leading the area served by the utility in growth.

"Last month, they set a record by use by an individual customer," he said. "The city used 79,487 million gallons of water last month. Last August, they used 55,532 million gallons of water. For the year-to-date, from January to July, they're up 30.8 percent over the same time in 2017. Their usage is definitely skyrocketing."

Borman said the water authority is looking to add to its storage capacity with new tanks planned near Lincoln in Washington County and in the Garfield-Gateway area in Benton County.

"In the Garfield-Gateway area, we've been talking about it for about five years," he said. "They've got about 800,000 gallons of storage, and they're now averaging about 900,000 gallons a day in usage."

General News on 09/05/2018

Print Headline: Northwest Arkansas cities eye water needs

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