Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority director Andy Anderson said the authority’s water tanks were at near capacity Thursday afternoon and other downstream customers have been supplied with sufficient water, but the boil order was still in effect for the entire system.
The state Department of Health on Monday issued a boil-water order for the entire system, which serves many customers in Boone, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties. Water from Bull Shoals Lake is treated at the plant near Lead Hill, then sent via pipeline to customers downstream.
That includes customers in Lead Hill, South Lead Hill, Diamond City, Valley Springs in Boone and Marion counties, Western Grove in Boone, Newton and Searcy counties, SPG Water Association in Searcy and Marion counties, Deer, Marshall Water Works, SDM Water Association in Searcy County, Leslie Water System, Morning Star Water Association, South Mountain Water Association, Jasper Water Works and Lake Bull Shoals Water.
Anderson said officials believe a series of warm days and cold water coming into the system from the lake caused the clarifier at the treatment plant to “flip” the way the lake will also turn over with water from the bottom going to the top.
One of the three filters at the treatment plant is offline for repairs and that won’t be completed until the end of January, Anderson said. The cost for repairing all three filters — two were repaired last summer — will be about $342,000.
Trent Jones, district engineer with the Health Department, informed Anderson in writing Thursday morning that because the authority was able to bypass the clarifier, no water with elevated turbidity entered the system.
Because the problem was one of a lack of capacity and no bad water entered the system, only one set of samples must be tested for bacteria and for the proper amount of disinfectant. In most cases, the process requires two sets of samples tested.
Anderson said the authority took samples to Little Rock on Thursday morning for the testing procedure, which takes 24 hours. Samples were at the Health Department about 11 a.m. Thursday, so it will be noon Friday before any results could be seen.
The authority treats water and sends it to 18 subsequent customers. Each of those systems will have to take samples to Little Rock for testing.
Jones wrote to Anderson on Thursday that some of those systems were also taking samples Thursday. But the authority’s samples must pass testing before the others can be tested. If the authority’s samples fail, the other systems’ samples will have to be tested again before the boil order will be lifted.
Under the 'Boil Water' Notice, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption, and water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled briskly for one minute prior to use. All ice cubes should be discarded and only boiled water used for making ice.