BUFFALO POINT, Ark. — The National Park Service is finalizing plans to replace two sewage plants near the Buffalo River.
The facilities are located at Buffalo Point – located south of Yellville in Marion County, Arkansas.
While hearing “sewage” and “Buffalo River” in the same sentence may throw up red flags for some, the NPS says the current plants have been operating on the property for more than 40 years.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard of what’s being put back into the river,” says Buffalo River maintenance supervisor, Jesse Morris, “and we’re always well within compliance.”
Morris says the NPS has also received awards for operating the plants.
However, he says the $2.5-million project to replace them is necessary to cut down on operational and utility costs going forward.
“It’s similar to a vehicle,” he says, “the longer it’s on the road the longer it takes to keep it working properly. This one [located below the visitor center] is a 1972 model.”
Consolidating the two facilities was considered by the NPS, but it instead opted for the less costly option of replacing both plants in their current locations.
“[It’s] a lot less ground disturbance,” Morris says, “when you’re using the same footprint that we’ve already established for these plants.”
Morris says the project will allow his department to maintain its high standard while also staying ahead of any regulation changes that could be handed down by the EPA.
“It will put us in a good position to meet those challenges in the future,” he says.
Construction is expected to be staggered over the winter months to help minimize the impact to operations and visitors.
A public commenting period, regarding the plans, is expected to begin in the near future.