Central Arkansas Water is preparing to undertake a major rebuilding project at the historic Ozark Point Water Treatment plant, which is surrounded by Knoop Park.
A call for bids to be opened June 20 says the project at the 82-year-old plant will include demolition of two sedimentation basins, a new building and renovation of existing buildings.
The original main building, shown above, was a New Deal project of the Works Progress Administration completed in 1938 at a cost of $3.1 million. It was built to treat water from a new reservoir in Saline County (Lake Winona).
Thad Luther, the utility’s chief operating officer, tells me all the work will be within the existing footprint of the facility and so the park won’t be affected, though there’ll be a lot of truck traffic through the facility’s gate during the construction period, which will extend into the summer of 2022. No change will be made in the facade of existing buildings or interior features, which include Art Deco touches.
The project is expected to cost around $27 million.
Though water treatment began with the completion of the WPA project and the link to Lake Winona in 1939, Luther tells me there was a water handling facility on Ozark Point, the highest point in the city of Little Rock until it grew west, beginning in the late 19th century. It used water pumped up from the Arkansas River, likely for fire protection.
It’s the cheapest treated water in the city because it flows by gravity from Lake Winona, on higher ground, and then is shipped downhill to downtown and other neighborhoods. It can treat about 24 million gallons a day, versus 130 million at the Jack Wilson plant in western Little Rock.
The plant will continue operating to some degree during the work, with the heaviest construction in winter months. The biggest projects are replacement of the two sedimentation basins.
CAW plans a neighborhood meeting soon so people can see the inside of the plant before the work.