Sewage Runoff In White River: Drinking Water Is Safe

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Two sewage leaks that feed into the White River were discovered April 2 and 3 at the West Fork Waste Water Treatment Facility in Washington County.

After receiving an anonymous tip, officials from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality came to the site and found one leak coming from a manhole just outside the fence and another coming from a splitter box in the facility.

West Fork Utilities Superintendent Butch Bartholomew said the drinking water is unaffected.

"We are working on it very diligently and in fact the more people that become aware of this is actually going to be a good thing and help us," said Bartholomew.

One West Fork resident is still playing it safe until more testing is done.

"I will absolutely not be going in the water, I won't even let my dogs drink this water in the park," said Carrie Owen.

Bartholomew said the city has received a grant from the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission to make the repairs necessary to stop the leaks.

"Seventy-five thousand feet of a large main line will be cleaned... at least 300 manholes will be inspected," said Bartholomew.

John Pennington is an environmental activist with the Beaver Watershed Alliance and said that the White River flows into Beaver Lake, which is a source of drinking water for half of a million people in Northwest Arkansas.

"Drinking water is probably the greatest concern right away to most people and then the water quality and health for the river---for people that want to fish in it, the people that want to swim in it...those are concerns that also need to be addressed," said Pennington.

Bartholomew could not give a time frame on when the repairs would be made but said that the city is handling the situation.


  • Toxic Bob

    So, if I had a cup and pulled water straight out of the river and it had toilet paper that KFSM reporters took photos of for this news event. Would that water be safe to drink?

    While the “drinking water” is safe, don’t think of getting near the river.

    Shame on Arkansas. Nobody cares anymore.

    • Concerned West Fork Citizen.

      Not true that no one cares. Some West Fork citizens have been asking for years that the water and sewer commission be held more accountable for its management.

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