CUSHMAN, Ark. (KAIT) – In Independence County, a continued water line problem has reached its breaking point in Cushman, leaving citizens without water for over 5 days.
However, Mayor Brittany Hurley said the 1960s water system has been a problem for at least 30 years now.
“This severe weather storm took us out completely, it’s been an ongoing issue with our water in the past. So, this was just the icing on the cake,” Hurley said. “We have crews out working, fixing the leaks; we had another six-inch line [burst].”
The system ultimately failed again this week resulting in the National Guard bringing in a two-thousand-gallon water tank for 500 citizens Sunday
Those citizens showed up Monday at the city council meeting with their concerns.
Of the more than 20 people in attendance, a few offered solutions.
Several asked what can they do to help and others suggested getting the Cushman’s Water Department Manager Michael Wood more funding and manpower.
Wood told citizens that it’s only him and one other man addressing everything, adding there’s not enough money to resolve all of the problems and they probably will never have enough.
Mayor Hurley confirmed $35,143.96 was owed to the water company over the past 60 days from citizens still receiving services.
Those in the crowd questioned why those who haven’t paid didn’t have their water shut off.
“Our system has been so inadequate for so many years. We have not been keeping it up for 40 years. We need to raise these water bills so we can get some money to pay Mike Woods to go out here and fix these leaks,” one citizen told the council.
On Monday, the council also implemented a water board that includes seven men who will focus on solutions, funding and getting those water bills paid.
Those men are Tim Brown, Dustin Sanders, Michael Hatfield, Bryan Harman, Jim Augusta, Danny Carter and Patrick Collins.
“We’re looking at millions. It’s going to be a multi-million-dollar project,” Hurley said. “It’s going to be a very expensive process. It’s not going to be an overnight quick fix. It’s going to be long. We are looking at right now getting the crisis taken care of, getting water back on for the residents, once that’s over, we will start looking at a long-term procedure to set something in place.”
On Tuesday, there will be a special-called meeting with the newly formed water board and city council.
That meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Cushman Community Center.
They’ll discuss their plans on increasing the water rate.
Mayor Hurley confirmed as of right now, they do not have a timeline of when the water will be restored.
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