03 Feb 2024 Clean water means enhanced quality of life
By Beth Jimmerson
For more than 90 years, Conway Corp has operated the city-owned utility system and now provides electric, water, wastewater, video, internet, voice and security services for the Conway community.
We are dedicated to exceeding our customers’ expectations in producing and delivering safe, affordable, reliable, innovative and environmentally sound utility and telecommunication services while enhancing the quality of life in our community. Part of our mission is ensuring a clean, safe and reliable water supply for the 70,000 residents who rely on us daily.
Our employees are on the job 24/7/365 managing the many steps involved in collecting, cleaning and delivering water to you, our neighbors.
Here is just some of what’s involved in managing our system.
Conway’s primary source of water is Brewer Lake, a 28,900 acre-feet lake located near Plumerville. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the lake in 1983 by damming Cypress Creek. Operation and maintenance of the lake was turned over to Conway Corp later that year.
We have on-site employees who oversee the operation of the lake, and our crews focus on helping the watershed stay healthy by looking at timber management and stabilization of the lake banks. We recently planted more than 3,000 bald cypress trees around the lake banks to help protect the lake and maintain a high quality of water for our community.
We have Cadron Creek as a backup water source, and we also have an agreement with Central Arkansas Water to collect water from Greers Ferry Lake in case of a water shortage due to severe drought conditions or emergencies.
Water from Brewer Lake is treated at the Roger Q Mills Water Treatment Plant to purify the water before it’s delivered to our customers. Filters remove debris and particles, and disinfectant is added to protect against any bacteria, viruses or other microbes that might remain. The treatment plant can currently treat more than 24 million gallons of water daily for the community.
We conduct multiple daily tests to ensure the water we send to your home or business is safe. In addition to the daily tests, we gather bacteriological samples that the Arkansas Department of Health tests each month.
We have a partnership with the UCA College of Natural Science and Mathematics for continued testing for the natural constituents in water that impact taste and odor. The Biology Department is taking a leadership role providing undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to be a part of water quality monitoring tests. This proactive testing is helping us better understand taste and odor issues from natural algal activity in the lake and is in addition to our regular daily tests.
Our water distribution system has more than 400 miles of pipe buried underground. That’s enough pipe to stretch from Conway to the Gulf of Mexico if laid end to end. Our system also boasts approximately 7,000 valves, 2,500 hydrants and more than 25,000 meters. Our crews work 24/7/365 repairing and upgrading infrastructure to ensure a seamless distribution.
Ensuring our customers have enough safe, clean drinking water for years to come remains our top priority, and we have a master plan for water supply to ensure the needs of customers are met well into the future. Water projects don’t happen overnight, and we work daily to ensure we have enough water not only today but 50 years from now.
A series of “once in a lifetime” projects are now underway – including expanding the current water treatment plant, constructing a second raw water line from Brewer Lake to Conway and planning for an additional water source.
These projects, in addition to the ongoing work of maintaining and upgrading the system as needed, will boost resilience, reliability and sustainability of the system for years to come.
We expect to invest $75 million over the next five years in projects that will maintain, repair, protect and upgrade our water system to prepare for the future. At the same time, we’re committed to keeping water rates as low as possible while still delivering clean, safe water to our customers.
Conway Corp staff and consultants are developing plans for an 8 million gallons per day (MGD) expansion at the Roger Q Mills Water Treatment Plant that will bring the capacity to 32 MGD.
We are working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a new intake and receive an additional water allocation from Greers Ferry Lake. This includes developing a partnership with Community Water System to build shared infrastructure, which may include an intake on Greers Ferry Lake, a 34-mile transmission main and a new water treatment plant.
In addition to these partnerships, we’re working closer to home by updating infrastructure, replacing old water pipes and increasing water main capacity to prepare for the future.
We’re dedicated to providing an excellent water product at the lowest possible cost to our customers. From the lake to the water quality lab to your faucet, we’re at work every day delivering a safe, reliable water supply for the residents of Conway. You can drink, wash and cook comfortably knowing we have a master plan to prepare for Conway’s future water needs so our community has ample water for years to come.