November 11, 2009 Edition

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Boil order lifted in Alicia

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Samples of Alicia's water taken on Oct. 30 tested negative for total coliform and e-Coli resulting in the lifting of a boil order for Alicia on Nov 2.

Alicia had been under a boil order since Aug. 11 when water samples showed contamination from the e-Coli bacteria, as well as bacteria in the total coliform positive sample, which exceeded EPA standards.

Mayor Beth Reynolds said the city has been repairing an outdated water delivery system in hopes of maintaining the water supply until the NEA Water Authority is up and operational.

Although the Alicia water system has had problems from time to time, the real problems began with the January ice storm that shut down the entire county.

"We lost power and did not have a generator to run the pump," said Reynolds. "By the time we got a generator the water level in the tank had dropped very low."

"We had to pump straight from the well. We lost water pressure and our filters clogged."

Alicia's water delivery system continued to be plagued with problems including the inability to filter the supply. Mickey Baker who lives south of Alicia said, "The August boil order put a lot of stress on the community. I am not on the Alicia water system but my parents are.

"I spent a lot of time and energy trying to find a solution for my family. No one could drink the water and it wasn't even safe enough for those with certain ailments to bathe in," she said.

"I called everybody I thought might be able to help. Everyone I talked to wanted to help, but the only solution that will work is a new water system."

"We tried to have water brought in from outside the community but we were not deemed an emergency and there was no funding for it," Mayor Reynolds said.

Help is coming. The newly formed Northeast Arkansas Water Authority is in the process of developing a new water treatment plant and transmission lines, which will supply water to much of Lawrence County including Alicia. NEA Water Authority Chairman A.J. Henry said that the group will meet on Nov. 20 in the Lawrence County Meeting Room at 9 a.m. to discuss the process of implementing the new water supply system.

"We hope to begin construction on the transmission lines by the end of December," Henry said. "Getting the farmers on the new lines is very important, and we plan to have as much of the agriculture lands connected to the new system as we can by the beginning of the next farming season.

"Alicia is high on our list of priorities," he said. "They will be the first residential area to receive the new transmission lines."

Much of the time frame for completion of the new system will depend on weather and other uncontrollable factors that crews will face as they lay the 83,000 feet of lines that will connect each city's delivery system to the new supply line. In addition to the new transmission lines a water treatment plant must also be built to process the water taken from Spring River.

"I'm so grateful we're off the boil order," Mayor Reynolds said. "All we can do is try to make it through until we can be connected to the new distribution system."

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