Possible Human Waste In Water Concerns Washington County

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- Several residents in Prairie Grove and Farmington said they have been dealing with issues surrounding their community’s sewage system for more than one year. Now, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is joining Washington County in searching for a resolution to the problem.

According to Washington County Attorney Steve Zega, the sewage issue can be directly linked to the aeration cells at the Valley View Golf Course. The golf course is in between Farmington and Prairie Grove.

Zega said the sewage from the nearby homes is supposed to go through several filtration systems, before it ends up in small ponds along the golf course.

“[The system] further breaks down the solids, and it allows for the growth of beneficial bacteria. [The aeration cell] also is supposed to reduce the smell,” Zega said.

However, after dozens of families complained of the extreme smell of raw sewage throughout the neighborhoods, the ADEQ decided to investigate the sewage system’s functionality. According to a report from the ADEQ, solid portions of raw human feces were discovered in at least one pond along the golf course, between homes.

Although the legal team representing the sewer system’s managers denies any direct wrongdoing in the issue, the county still decided to intercede. Zega says the possibility of the sewage overflowing into the water system for other cities during rainy seasons was a major concern.

“We are concerned that whatever was escaping the system was going out into the Illinois River, and into the county,” Zega said.

Under the closed-loop sewer system, Zega said the water in the aeration cell should only be used to water the golf course. With the possibility of overflow, Zega said the county believed there would be a possibility of drinking water being impacted.

5NEWS spoke with the Kendall Law Firm, which represents those in charge of the sewage system at Valley View. The firm referred questions to a legal response to the investigation.

In the 15 pages provided, the firm denies their clients were responsible for any allegations surrounding mistreatment of the sewage system in Valley View. The documents also deny any claims of Valley View Golf Course dumping raw sewage into the Farmington storm water system or Illinois River.

5NEWS spoke to several residents throughout the Valley View community. All residents questioned agreed the sewage system has lowered their quality of life in the community. Many residents said they would avoid letting children play outside, due to the concerns surrounding the smell of the aeration cell.

However, some in the community said there are times where the smell is unavoidable.

“The air conditioning units suck the outside air in, and bring it in the house,” said John Johnson, a resident of Valley View for more than five years. “When the wind changes directions, it is quite awful. The smell just gets overwhelming.”

Johnson said the smell is only noticeable when winds blow in certain directions. Depending on the location of property, each resident 5NEWS spoke with agreed.

“[The smell] comes and goes,” Johnson said. “You [have to] burn candles, or go out to eat.”

Zega said the county has now found an independent organization to survey the issue. By doing so, the county hoped to find a solution to the sewage problems.

Zega also said the developer of the available lots surrounding Valley View Golf Course has had a difficult time moving forward with building homes. Zega said the developer will need the system to be fixed, before they can continue to add residences to the sewage line.

Until a resolution is found for all involved, many who live in the community said they will continue to take precaution while living near the aeration cell.

“If it is going to last all day and all night, there is nothing you can do about it. You are just going to have to deal with it,” Johnson said.

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