A regional water plan will save power by using gravity, rather than pumps, Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association governmental affairs committee member Jerry Yeric told the GAC recently.

“Boring a tunnel 300 feet under Blakely Mountain would enable water from Lake Ouachita to gravity flow to a treatment plant off Amity Road, an engineer told the Hot Springs board of directors. Matt Dunn of Crist Engineers Inc., the Little Rock firm awarded a $1 million contract for preliminary design and engineering work on the Lake Ouachita project, said the tunnel concept came into focus after a site for an intake structure was identified in a small cove east of the main channel,” Yeric reported.

“A 48- to 60-inch diameter tunnel 2,300 feet long would connect the intake to a 17-mile-long raw waterline feeding a 15 million-gallon a day treatment plant the city plans to build on Little Mazarn Road. The intake, tunnel, raw waterline, plant and finished waterlines are the primary elements of a roughly $100 million project to bring online the 23 million-gallon average day allocation the city secured from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 2017,” Yeric said.

“Financed by the water rate increase the board approved in late 2017, the project is in the preliminary design phase. The $20 million bond issue the city floated last year includes $5 million to get the project started. Dunn told the board part of that debt will pay for a geotechnical investigation into the feasibility of a tunnel. It will also purchase 33 acres the board authorized the city to acquire for the plant site in October,” Yeric told the GAC.
The $500,000 transaction is expected to close soon.

More than $4 million was committed through the end of last year from the $20 million bond issue the city issued for capital improvements to the regional water system serving more than 35,000 meters inside and outside the corporate limits, according to a report from the city finance department, he told the GAC.