Supplemental Environmental Project Helps Citizens in Fort Smith

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For the second year in a row, the supplemental environmental project is helping low-income homeowners in Fort Smith with their broken sewer lines.

Utilities Department Deputy Director of Operations Lance McAvoy said: “The S.E.P. is designed to help those with low or fixed incomes make repairs that benefit the city as a whole by reducing inflow and infiltration which can contribute to sanitary sewer overflows.”

McAvoy also said the SEP helped 28 citizens in 2018 With repairs totaling over $52,000. 10 claims are currently pending.

The program officially started in 2018, although its roots go back to 2014 following a report which found more than 119-million gallons of untreated sewage in local waterways since 2004.

Fort Smith settled with the Department of Justice and the EPA, requiring the city to fix low-income residents’ private sewer lines that have “actionable defects” related to inflow and infiltration that can contribute to overflows.

Under the settlement, Fort Smith would have to test the sewage system and fix failing equipment. 

The city would also have to pay a $300,000 penalty and spend $400,000 to help qualified low-income homeowners fix or replace defective private sewer lines connected to the city system. 

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