AR Briefly

Wastewater bill exempts some Arkansas POAs/HOAs from wastewater trust fund

By: - January 25, 2023 5:32 pm

The Arkansas House approved a bill that would exempt communities with 5,000 or more residents from annual contributions to a nonmunicipal sewage treatment fund.

HB1015 amends the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act to create an exemption for property owners’ associations and homeowners’ associations that operate nonmunicipal domestic sewage treatment systems that service a population exceeding 5,000 people. 

Rep. Richard McGrew (R-Hot Springs) said he sponsored the legislation to support Hot Springs Village, a gated community in his district with more than 17,000 residents.

Rep. Richard McGrew (R-Hot Springs) 

Hot Springs Village operates two National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) facilities. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants through a “point source” in water unless they have an NPDES permit, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The permit contains limits on what can be discharged, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure the discharge doesn’t hurt water quality or people’s health.

Currently, Hot Springs Village must contribute $5,000 annually per facility to the state’s Nonmunicipal Domestic Sewage Treatment Works Trust Fund, said Alan York, associate director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Water Quality. York told the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee Jan. 19 that the trust fund is designed to step in when there’s a failure of a nonmunicipal domestic wastewater system or if one goes bankrupt.

“In Arkansas we have numerous systems — Hot Springs Village is the only one of this kind of size or scope — that have their own discharge permits to operate wastewater systems for small communities, neighborhoods, etc.,” York said.

The proposed legislation wouldn’t change federal rules, so Hot Springs Village would still be required to be permitted, he said.

Prompted by committee members’ questions, McGrew amended the bill to ensure that property owners’ associations and homeowners’ associations exempt from contributing to the trust fund do not benefit from the trust fund should their water systems fail.

The House approved HB1015 on Wednesday by a vote of 98-0. The bill now heads to the Senate.

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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.