After a nonproductive week of asking residents to conserve water by not watering yards, Maumelle Water Management on Monday outlawed any water use for lawns and yards until further notice.
The voluntary request did not work, officials said.
Barry Heller, manager of the Maumelle Suburban Improvement District No. 500, better known as Maumelle Water Management, said in his official notice: "Effective immediately all lawn irrigation and sprinkling is prohibited. Maumelle Water Management has issued a mandatory water conservation order. Please turn off all irrigation systems. These measures are required to maintain adequate water for fire protection and sanitary usage. This order will remain in effect until further notice. "MWM regrets having to issue this order, but we have had a well failure. This reduces the capacity required for lawn irrigation. We have more than adequate capacity to provide for fire protection and residential usage. We will pursue all solutions to remedy the problem so as to allow sprinkling to resume as soon as possible. We are in the process of drilling two new wells. One will be placed on-line by the July 13th. The second well, pending Department of Health approval, will be placed on-line approximately August 24th.
"Non-compliance will result in sprinkler meters being locked off and a reconnect fee to be charged when service is allowed to resume."
Heller said the water utility had a well failure on Sunday, which caused the problem. He told city officials in an e-mail:
"We had a well failure on Sunday," he stated to city officials in an e-mail. "This has reduced our capacity to the point it is necessary to suspend lawn irrigation and sprinkling. We have more than adequate capacity to provide fire protection and house usage. I would have preferred to be able to allow some limited irrigation, but the voluntary order did NOT reduce consumption, therefore we are suspending all sprinkling until we have returned our pumping capacity to 6 mgd [million gallons per day]."
Maumelle Water Management is an independent organization governed by a board of directors and has no official connection with city government.
Several years ago, the water utility established an emergency connection with the much larger Central Arkansas Water system in the event of a need to purchase water from them.
All of Maumelle’s water supply comes from ground wells that are mostly located along the city’s south side either on the Maumelle Country Club property or on the peninsula adjacent to it in the Arkansas River. However, the deep wells do not contain any river water, according to various Arkansas Department of Health tests over the years.
The initial wells were drilled during World War II for use at the Maumelle Defense Depot ammunition plant operated here during the war.
After years of complaints about hard water, the utility switched the chemicals being used to treat the well water to soften and to make it safe to drink from a lime agent to a different chemical compound, which caused some initial concern earlier this year. However, state health officials said the water is safe to drink, and in fact, the state engineer who issues the reports lives in Maumelle and said he prefers the taste of Maumelle’s well water to the treated lake water used mostly by CAW.