Lee Creek issues force City of Fort Smith to adopt water conservation measures

A week after residents of Fort Smith were told they need not worry about the city’s water conservation requests because the city’s reservoirs are 90% full, the city of Fort Smith announced Thursday, August 4, that Conservation Phase II water restrictions are in effect by August 12.

On July 26, Fort Smith Utilities Manager Lance McCoy said that although several cities in Arkansas, including Cedarville and others in South Sebastian County, have implemented water restrictions due From the lack of rain and excessive heat of the past few weeks, Fort Smith’s water supply was fine.

Although the city’s water supply did not suddenly drop, residents were notified on Thursday (August 4) that water conservation efforts were in effect. According to the notice, the city’s Lee Creek water treatment plant experienced a mechanical problem and was partially shut down for maintenance on Tuesday (Aug. 2).

“The plant was still capable of producing 5 million gallons per day using a small standby system when maintenance began. Lake Fort Smith was able to increase water production to maintain water supply to Fort Smith and our contracted users. This redundancy allows us to provide clean drinking water for the benefit of all users,” notes a press release.

After maintenance was completed and staff began the process of returning the Lee Creek plant to full water production, another maintenance issue was found that required Lee Creek to be completely shut down to repair.

“Normally, this type of work and maintenance is only carried out during the winter months, when the demand for water is low. Unfortunately, the repairs were the result of unforeseen maintenance issues and needed to be completed immediately,” the press release reads.

During the treatment process at the Lee Creek plant, water passes through a “clearwell” area, which stores finished potable water before sending it to customers. This area has baffles that hang from a railing to help mix water and chlorine, which is used for disinfection.

“The wires holding the curtain baffles broke and several of the baffles fell off,” said city administrator Carl Geffken.

Staff have put the curtains back in place with a new thread, but the clearwell needs to be cleaned, disinfected and tested before being put back into service, he said.

“This process will take several days. The system of clear wells and curtain baffles enables Lee Creek to produce 22 million gallons per day (MGD) of potable water. Because this system is offline, the plant cannot produce enough water to meet current demand,” Geffken said.

During maintenance, a smaller contact chamber is used to provide a smaller amount of potable water, Geffken added. This chamber has a maximum flow of 5 million gallons per day.

“It was commissioned, but soon after a leak was discovered in the chemical feed system and the plant was taken completely offline. Staff are working to repair this leak to enable the plant to provide water to help meet demand, but it is difficult to identify where the leak is occurring,” Geffken said. “These issues were not anticipated but staff are working on repairs as quickly as possible.”

To ensure that the city provides potable water, the plant is offline until all repairs can be made to the secondary contact chamber or the clean water well is allowed to operate, whichever comes first, he said. Repairs should be completed by Monday (August 8) and full water production should be restored by August 12, according to the press release.

While city administrators have said there will be no compromise to public health or safety during this time, water restrictions have been put in place. Geffken issued a Phase II water conservation emergency statement on Thursday. Water conservation statement requirements include:
• No person shall use water to such an extent that it allows water to escape from their premises onto public property, such as lanes or streets, or onto the property of others.
• Customers should refrain from using sprinkler systems or sprinklers to water lawns, shrubs, plants and trees. and gardens. Watering of shrubs, plants, trees and gardens is only permitted using a hand-held hose and should be limited to the minimum amounts necessary to maintain plant life. All lawn and turf watering from city springs is prohibited.
• Residents should not use motor vehicles, trailers, airplanes or boats. The notice said this did not apply to commercial car washes and authorized dealerships. However, the city asks that they use as little water as possible.
• Guests should not fill pools or fountains.
• Customers should not wash the exterior of the buildings.
• Customers may not wash sidewalks, driveways, driveways, patios, parking lots, concrete tennis courts and other hard surfaces with a hose or using water directly from faucets or other city sources.

The use of hydrant water at any time for construction purposes, fire drills or routine hydrant testing is prohibited. Only non-potable water may be used for soil compaction, earthmoving operations or building base layers in streets, the notice said.

“Golf course watering and other commercial irrigation from municipal sources should only be done to the extent necessary to preserve turf and other vegetation. Golf courses are only permitted to water greens and tee boxes from municipal sources. Fairway and rough watering of golf courses and watering of school football and baseball fields from city springs is prohibited,” the notice states.

Food processing and catering establishments may engage in such water use only to the extent necessary to maintain and preserve public health and in accordance with any state or federal regulations. Restaurants and other eating establishments may only hose down or wash walkways immediately adjacent to entrances and no more than 10 feet from entrances and no more than 10 feet from garbage cans, food delivery or service areas. food.

Fort Smith supplies water to 14 other water systems from the Lake Fort Smith and Lee Creek plants, McAvoy said. These include Winslow, Chester, Mountainburg, Hwy 71 Water Users, Cedarville, Van Buren, Barling, Arkoma, Franklin/Sebastian Water Users, Central City, Rural Water District No. 7 in Oklahoma, Fort Chaffee, Concord Water and Lavaca , he said. Fort Smith is also an emergency supply for Alma.

Fort Smith Lake, located in Crawford County, was developed in 1935 and significantly expanded in 2006. Lee Creek Reservoir, a secondary water source, was constructed in the early 1990s. According to city information , Fort Smith operates over 700 miles of water transmission and distribution lines, two treatment plants, 16 pump stations, 11 pressure reducing stations and 13 water storage reservoirs. The city also claims that it produces more than 10.5 billion gallons of drinking water per year.

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