Members of the Van Buren Municipal Utilities Commission have approved the preliminary capital improvements program budget for 2018.

The preliminary plan includes $1,415,400 in water and sewer improvements, according to VBMU Director Steve Dufresne.

At the January meeting, commissioners also approved Dufresne’s request to authorize Hawkins-Weir Engineers Inc. to complete plans and specifications for the installation of flow control valves at four locations in the water system.

Once the plans are complete, Deufresne said the project will be bid.

He said the flow control valves will help to better utilize the system’s water storage reservoirs and reduce stress on the system during peak demand periods.

The commission also approved a request to proceed with an update of the water system master plan.

“Sewer system improvement projects for 2018 will be reviewed and considered at a later date and include two projects that are required by an Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Consent Administrative order,” Dufresne said.

They are the installation of flow monitoring devices at five wastewater pumping stations and the replacement or repair of 25 manholes.

“The City of Van Buren Municipal Utilities continues to meet sewer system maintenance and upgrade requirements to reduce sewer overflows included in the CAO,” Dufresne said. “The CAO issued in 2015 includes approximately $10 million in maintenance and system improvements through 2035.”

Dufresne also reported to the commission that about 104 water connections were added to the system during 2017, bringing the total number of active water meters in the system to around 9,130. He also said the VBMU staff responded to 8,535 work orders between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017.