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River Valley seeing water restrictions amid high temperatures

Customers in LeFlore County and southern Sebastian County are being asked to conserve water amid high temperatures.

SEBASTIAN COUNTY, Ark. —  

Any weather report or thermometer will tell you it’s hot outside. Trying to use water to beat the heat in LeFlore County and parts of southern Sebastian County might have to be put on pause for the foreseeable future.

In LeFlore County, the Poteau Valley Improvement Authority (PVIA) has been without one of its water pumps for the last several weeks. They’ve been able to get by without any major issues, but the recent heat wave is putting a strain on the system.

“For us, it’s pretty significant because we’re at maximum flow capacity right now,” says James Morrison, PVIA manager.

Morrison says normally the plant processes a little more than 13 million gallons of water, right now they are down to just 10 million gallons – and asking their 45,000 customers to conserve water.

“We’re just holding what we’ve got. We pump 24 hours a day,” said Morrison. “Conserve where you can. You know, if you don’t have to use water, don’t. Every little bit goes a long way.”

Morrison wants customers to know that his team is working to get the pump operational, but slowdowns to the supply chain have been a factor in the delay. However, he believes the pump will be back in operation by the end of this week or next. If not, he says the county is one major event from facing a possible boil order.

“One electrical power outage or a major line break, and we’re in trouble,” said Morrison.

Across the border in southern Sebastian County, communities like Mansfield, Sugarloaf and Hackett are also being asked to conserve water.

Late last week, the James Fork Regional Water District began asking customers to conserve their water use. Monday, they told 5NEWS “Due to growth and high temperatures the system is very taxed right now. Adjustments have been made in areas to help the problem. Engineers are currently working on ways to fix this problem in the future.”

In Hackett, Darren Edwards with the city’s water department says, “We’re borderline right now. We could run out of water at any time.”

Edwards has been closely monitoring the city’s two water tower levels to ensure the pressure is up and customers have water. If tower levels fall too quickly he says the pumps can’t keep up and the city will be placed on boil orders. In the event of this happening, Edwards says Sebastian County Emergency Management has already been notified to be on standby.

Customers in both counties impacted are being asked to conserve their water use by not filling up pools, using water slides or heavy-use water toys, and to avoid watering yards with sprinklers or washing cars. These simple efforts can keep levels maintained until pumps are replaced and hopefully some relief from the heat.

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