#RCAP50: Using Regionalization to Overcome Small Town’s Wastewater Woes

August 16, 2023 By RCAP

Location: Marie, Arkansas
Problem: The town’s wastewater system could no longer keep up with treating the school district’s wastewater, causing untreated wastewater to be discharged into streams
Solution: Communities Unlimited assisted the town in leveraging a Community Development Block Grant to fund its portion of a new wastewater regionalization pipeline 

The Town of Marie is a community of only 78 people located in Mississippi County, Arkansas, however the Rivercrest School District located within the community serves around 1400 students and also produces the vast majority of wastewater. Over the years, the system has been faced with declining population and revenue with an increase of wastewater loading to the system from a growing school district. This is a unique situation within the state where the current capacity of the Town of Marie’s wastewater system is not sufficient to treat the wastewater being produced by the school district. The result has been a continuance of untreated wastewater discharged to the receiving streams and ongoing compliance issues with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

A Consent Administrative Order (CAO) was executed by ADEQ on February 19, 2019, which named both the School District and the Town of Marie as responsible. A $750,000 wastewater regionalization pipeline project has been proposed as the most feasible option to treat wastewater from both the School and the Town. This project will be completed through the use of a pipeline to the City of Wilson who will also receive funding for capacity expansion. During this period of compliance resolution, wastewater treatment issues remain but Communities Unlimited was successful in leveraging $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the Town of Marie’s portion of the wastewater project. Communities Unlimited also was successful in completing a debt service and operation and maintenance contract between the Rivercrest School District, Town of Marie, and the City of Wilson to cover the remaining $600,000 loan financed by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Overall system capacity improvements and regulatory compliance are anticipated with this regionalization approach for wastewater treatment.

RCAP celebrating 50


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