Developing: Water Emergency declared in Saline County

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BENTON, Ark. — The Saline County Judge, Benton Mayor, and Benton Utilities have met and determined the current water situation in the area is an emergency.

Judge Jeff Arey, Benton Mayor Tom Farmer and Benton Utilities General Manager David Vondran took part in a conference call at 4:00 p.m.

“Due to the impact of recent winter storms, record-breaking cold and snowfall, water main ruptures and hydrants struck by vehicles, the purification and distribution systems of Benton Utilities have reached critical status. The city water storage tanks have been depleted. An equipment issue at the water purification plant required downtime, but has been fixed to the point that operations can be resumed,” said a press release from the City of Benton Executive Assistant Toby Hirscheider.

With the water supply at an historic low, a state of emergency is declared and arrangements are being made to deploy the Arkansas National Guard to bring tanker loads of potable water to the city.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding we are getting from our customers,” said Vondran, “but we must continue to extend our Water Conservation declaration until further notice.”

Farmer agreed. “We have full faith in Benton Utilities. When the people of this community work together, there isn’t anything we can’t do. Taking care of this problem is no exception.”

“There are water issues that extend beyond the customers of Benton Utilities.” said Arey. “We see supply and damage problems in the unincorporated areas of the county also. Declaring the emergency is the best way to address the problem for everyone.”

Water main ruptures and leaks have continued at various points in the distribution system since Wednesday. Crews have been working around the clock to fix the problems as they arise, but freezing temperatures and record snowfall have impeded progress. With warmer temperatures and thawing in the forecast, repairs will be easier to perform.

“We understand the frustration people are feeling with the fluctuations in the water system. Our customers are our eyes on the ground. We are thankful for the information they send us and encourage them to keep doing so.” said Vondran.

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