The Fort Smith Utilities Department is preparing to start work on four sewer projects affecting Wards 1,2 and 4, the project manager said.

All of the projects are sanitary sewer remediation, or repair work, that could include replacing or repairing pipe or manholes, Project Manager Margaret Lees said Thursday at a public meeting intended to inform residents about the work being done in their neighborhoods.

Some of the projects, which are expected to start in January, should take nearly a year to complete.

"We might have to take out some fences and some mailboxes," Lees said. "If that's the case, what we'll typically do is we'll approach these landowners prior to starting work and communicate with them and make sure everything we're doing is acceptable."

The projects are required by the consent decree mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice that the city agreed to in late 2014. The consent decree requires an estimated $480 million worth of upgrades to the city's sewers.

One of these projects is expected to cost about $2.4 million in construction costs, while the other three are expected to cost between $1 million and $2 million each, Lees said.