Water will flow faster with increased capacity for storage soon for Heber Springs Water Department users.

Work continues on improvements along Quitman Street with  completion of a new storage tank near the bypass and building of a new pump station adjacent to the department's main office on Front Street.

Heber Springs Water Department Manager Paul Graham said planning for the project began in 2013 and finalized in 2016 by securing a bond and the Heber Springs City Council approved a rate increase an annual six percent increase in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

"The first project was changing from the old meters to digital," he said. "The digital meter allows us to read daily usage of each customer. We can determine if they might have a leak quicker, instead of waiting 30 days for someone to read the meter. It was expensive to get the first project completed."

Graham said the next project was the filtration system at the water plant.

"We don't use chemicals to treat water and the process will cost less," he said. "Once we complete the project, it will cure a lot of our issues."

Graham said the improvements will come with new transmission lines on Quitman street, building of a high service pump station on front Street and a 550,000-gallon storage tank near the bypass.

"We have a construction crew right now working on Quitman Street," Graham said. "They have  installed 66 percent of the high pressure line. Eighteen-inch pipe will be installed from Front Street, down Morton and Pine streets and then to Quitman Street."

Graham said the line will split into 10-inch pipe at Eighth Street and flow south to serve the Mountain Top Water System and a 14-inch pipe to the storage tank near the bypass.

"Think about the water system like a body," Graham said. "First, the water plant is the heart. Mountain Top and Tumbling Shoals are the legs. They account for half of our daily usage of water. Heber's water and that water flows through the same pipe right now. When Tumbling Shoals has a leak, it lowers our water tank and causes lower pressure. When the project is completed, they will be disconnected from Heber water. We are not doing this project to cater to the two water systems. It will help the Heber Springs users."

Graham said the Quitman Street project is scheduled to be completed in nine months. He said users in that part of town will notice faster water flow and water will taste better.

"Customers complained in the past about dirty water and the taste and this will help with those two problems," he said. "We will have valves at every intersection and replace the old pipe. It will clean the water up. We will have no charge for connecting them to the new tap. You will be seeing a major improvement on Quitman Street."

Graham said the project will provide benefits to users in all areas.

"We will have more water available for irrigation, especially if we are having a dry summer," he said. "We can provide more water for the Heber ballfields and Eden Isle. We can keep levels high with more pressure."

Graham said even with the completion of the project, he and his staff will continue working on improving the entire system.

"We want to keep the system in good condition," he said. "We need one more update on the water plant and it will be good for 30 or 40 years. Our wastewater plant was built 40 years ago and now undersized. We will be looking to secure a new bond and make upgrades there."