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Water's the rage.

Faulkner-Cleburne Residents Await Pipeline Possibilities

A DEPENDABLE SOURCE OF good water, considered a necessity to most city dwellers, has long been an elusive luxury for many residents of rural north-central Arkansas.

But with financing for the Faulkner-Cleburne Water Supply pipeline almost in place, visions of clear water spewing from the kitchen sink won't be just a dream much longer.

By the summer of 1996, residents of four incorporated Faulkner County towns -- Guy, Greenbrier, Wooster and Mayflower -- and the Vilonia Water Association should be receiving treated water that originates at Greers Ferry Lake rather than a local well.

Proponents of the water project have said the new pipeline will eliminate past problems such as poor-quality water, boil orders, shortages and expenses associated with well water.

The Faulkner-Cleburne Regional Water District, a group of town mayors and other representatives, has been working on the pipeline project since 1986. The group commissioned McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc. of Little Rock to perform a feasibility study that resulted in plans for the 54-mile, $20 million pipeline project.

Financing for the project recently came through in the form of a $12.6 million loan and a $6.4 million grant from the Rural Development Administration arm of the Farmers Home Administration. An application for a $1.8 million state grant is still pending.

Because of its established relationship with FmHA, the grant-loan combination was awarded to Community Water System Inc., a rural water system serving about 3,400 retail water customers in the Greers Ferry-Fairfield Bay area.

Greg Smith, general manager of Community Water System, says the company will beef up its water treatment plant to handle 6 million gallons a day rather than its current 2.1 million.

With the new pipeline, Community Water System will serve 8,000 more customers, and the pipeline design allows for that number to increase to 23,000 in 20 years.

As a condition of the loan, Smith says the pipeline project and any resulting development must conform to FmHA land-use policies that require environmental sensitivity to farm land, wetlands and flood plains.

New Interest

Since funding has become available, Smith says Community Water System has received interest from additional communities interested in receiving water from the new pipeline.

Community Water System is currently looking into the feasibility of supplying water to several Lonoke County towns, and at least one town that previously wavered on the pipeline issue is revisiting the idea.

Two mayors whose towns will receive pipeline water say their communities have been overwhelmingly supportive of the project and have not expressed fears about development that may follow the water supply.

Mayflower Mayor Jack Grimes says he believes people have been dissuaded in the past from moving to his town because of the poor-quality water. Once the pipeline is operating, Grimes says Mayflower should become more of an option for people wishing to live outside the Little Rock area.

Mayflower, with a population of about 1,500 and about 2,300 area water users, is but a 20-minute drive southeast to downtown Little Rock along Interstate 40.

"The water is the answer for future growth," Grimes says.

He says the pipeline supply will cost Mayflower-area users about $12.50 more per month, based on a monthly usage of 5,000 gallons. The average family uses an estimated 4,000 gallons per month.

Although Mayflower has been plagued in the past with water shortages, Grimes says more recent problems have been with water quality.

"I get people calling me every day complaining about the water," he says.

Greenbrier Mayor Melton Cotton says his town recently spent $12,000 drilling two dry wells.

"We've just got to have |the pipeline~," Cotton says. "We're just spending money hunting dry holes, and when you get water it's not much good, either."

Cotton says he's already aware of a lot of property that will be developed for residential use when quality water becomes a reality for his town of about 2,130 people.

Though the prospect of good water is now within reach, Cotton says, it will still seem like a long wait.

Meanwhile, he says, "I just hold my nose and take a drink."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Across Arkansas; Faulkner-Cleburne Regional Water District pipeline project
Author:Walters, Dixie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:693
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