The City of West Fork is under state order to stop raw sewage from leaking into the White River, after two sewage leaks were found at the city’s wastewater treatment plant earlier this month.
The new emergency order mandates the city to clean up the waste and tell the state in writing what steps are planned to fix the problem and clean it up.
This week, the city reportedly took some action to stop the leak. They put up hay bales to stop the water in the trench, picked up garbage and added pumps to transport the water to one pond from an area on the sewer treatment side of the fence.
Some residents believe such measures not a permanent fix to the problem, though. They said the overflow area is still wet and flowing slimy gray sludge.
“We are not really sure how it’s getting clean, because it’s still going into the pond, which of course has never been dredged,” said Susan Cooney, who lives nearby. “It’s a super bad problem.”
Now that the state has stepped in, Cooney said she hopes the city finds a way to fix the problem.
“Maybe we needed someone like the state to say this is not right and you do have to change,” she said.
A complaint was reportedly made via email that when it rains, raw sewage overflows from a manhole on the south side of the treatment facility and flows into the White River, according to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
ADEQ inspectors visited the facility twice, on April 2 and 3. They observed sewage overflow was occurring and that waste water was entering the White River. On the second visit (April 3), inspectors observed a second overflow occurring at a splitter box located on the facility.
On Monday (April 7), inspectors returned to the facility once more and saw the overflows were still occurring, according to the ADEQ.
John Pennington with the Beaver Watershed Alliance said the wastewater facility should have never gotten to this point.
“You do not ever want your waste water treatment facility to be degraded to this point that you literally can not do much to fix it,” he said.
Mayor Charlie Rossetti said he plans to meet with all sides to resolve the problem.