Contact us at (501)776-5900

Water Department

Benton Utilities Water Department’s Mission is to protect the water resource, treat the water to ensure that it is safe and clean, upgrade and maintain the distribution system to provide an ample supply of safe clean drinking water to residents and businesses at an affordable price.

Continuing education for our employees, in the field of water and water distribution prepares us to meet current and future federal and state regulation and provide for the future water supply needs for the City of Benton.

Benton Utilities Water Purification Department

General Information – At the Benton Water Purification Plant, we strive to meet all rules and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency Safe Drinking Water Act. Up until this time, I think we have been very successful in this endeavor. It is our goal, to provide the Citizens in Benton and the outlying areas of Saline County with the best water possible. This has been our goal since the middle of 1916, and will continue to be our goal for many years to come. The Public Utilities Commissioners and employees of this department are dedicated to excellent water quality and exemplary regulatory compliance.

There are three major components in a public water system:
(1) Water Source or Supply (2) Water treatment and (3) Water distribution

The Benton Utilities Water Purification Plant is responsible for the first two components. The first is the source of water supply, which is usually a river, a lake, reservoir, or a combination of them. The second is treatment facilities that settle, filter, and chemically purify raw water to comply with the Federal standards in the Safe Drinking Water Act. The third is the distribution system made up of the networks of mostly underground pipes that carry water to homes, business and other customers.

Steve DiCicco is the Manager of the Water Purification Plant. He started to work for the City of Benton Water Distribution Department in 1977. He oversees the day to day operations of the facility, coordinating all activities and responsibilities with the Benton Utilities General Manager.

Other employees in this department include five licensed operators that keep the plant operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; two additional operators, a laboratory technician (that takes samples of the water at periodic intervals), and a laborer.

Plant Information – The treatment plant is a conventional surface water treatment plant with a capacity 13 million gallons per day (mgd). The water produced meets and exceeds all Safe Drinking Water Standards. The normal daily flow is approximately 5 mgd average with a maximum flow to date is 10.75 mgd.

Laboratory - Our lab has the ability to run TOC, Chlorine, Ph, Turbidity, Alkalinity and many other water tests, and this testing is completed every 4 hours 24 hours a day.

SCADA System – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System, this system enables us to control the plant, pumps, and water tanks. It has the capabilities of remotely opening the gates at Lake Norrell, from the plant. It also maintains a complete historical log of functions pertaining to these operations

Water Tanks – Total capacity 4,225,000 gallons of treated water in six water storage tanks.

Water Sources

The Benton Water Department uses a combination of water sources to meet the needs of our City. We use Lake Norrell, the Saline River, Chenault Reservoir and holding ponds to meet daily needs and peak demands of our customers.

Lake Norrell – In April of 1953, the construction was completed. It is a 280 acre lake built by Benton Plumbing Company and Jeffery-Lawrence & Tilley of Fort Smith. It cost approximately $300,000 to construct, and it stores 2.5 billion gallons of water. Lake Norrell is located upstream 17 miles from the City of Benton and water flows by gravity through the Saline River channel to the intake at Benton.

Saline River – There are pumps ranging in size from 100 HP to 300 HP located at the river, and they provide water to Chenault Reservoir or to the holding ponds. The spillway is located just downstream from the pumps which serve sort of like a dam to prevent the water from flowing away so quickly enhancing our pumps ability to function.

Chenault Reservoir – This is an off-Stream Raw Water Storage Reservoir that is intended to hold 120-day supply of water supplying 12 million gallons per day. It was constructed in 1999 by Saline Crushing.http://water-purification-process

The Water Purification Process

Benton Water Purification Plant uses conventional treatment at its water treatment plants. The treatment processes include coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection. Raw water from the Saline River, Lake Norrell and the Chenault Reservoir flows to the Benton Treatment Plant.

The water first arrives at the treatment plants two holding ponds, where powdered activated carbon is added for taste and odor removal. Water then flows to the upflow clarifiers where the water and chemicals are gently mixed to form "floc", which consist of agglomerations of suspended particles such as silt, bacteria, and algae. The water then flows into the sedimentation area where most of the "floc" settles out and is removed from the water. The water then flows downward through filters of sand and anthracite where any remaining "floc" particles are removed. Before and after filtration, chlorine is added for disinfection.

Finally, fluoride is added for the prevention of cavities in children's teeth and phosphate for minimizing corrosion in the distribution system piping.

All processes are monitored 24 hours a day by a licensed operator. Testing is completed every 4 hours by these operators and logged for Arkansas Department of Health reporting.

Water Treatment/Purification - Frequently Asked Questions

This fact sheet has been developed to answer questions in regards to the taste and odor changes of the drinking water supply during the hot summer months.

1. I have water that tastes and smells odd, is it safe to drink?

Yes. The taste and odor is a palatability issue. There are no health hazards created regardless of the taste and odor.

2. What causes the taste and odor changes?

A natural occurrence in all surface water supplies, an “algal bloom”, is responsible for the taste and odor changes in the water supply. Algal blooms usually occur in late July and into August each year.

3. What are the conditions for an algal bloom to occur in the water supply?

Nutrients must be present – such as nitrogen, phosphorous and calcium, which are derived from decaying vegetation.

Turbidity has lessened – the turbidity or cloudiness of the water has cleared up, allowing the penetration of the sunlight. This occurs due to lack of rainfall.

Temperature increase – the optimum temperature range of the lake water for an algal bloom to occur is between 80 - 85. This is provided through many hot summer days.

When all conditions are met, photosynthesis will take place and the algae will grow or proliferate. Algal species, such as anabaena, secrete an “oily” substance from their cells that causes an odor in the water supply. Aquatic fungi, actinomycetes, grow on dead and decaying algae and cause an earthy taste in the water.

4. What steps are being taken to control the taste and odor?

The Benton Utilities Water Purification Plant utilizes several steps to control the taste and odor produced by the algal blooms. Laboratory personnel, through daily analysis, perform algal counts and can determine the onset of an algal bloom. With the onset of an algal bloom, additional chemicals are added to the treatment process. A copper sulfate solution is added to reduce the algae count which will reduce the odor levels. To reduce the unpleasant taste, activated carbon is used as an absorption media. Each of these chemicals is removed during the treatment process prior to delivery of the potable water supply. Chlorine, which is used as the disinfectant in the treatment process, also aids in odor reduction.

5. What is that pink stuff in my bathroom where I have been running water?

By Nelson Yarlott.

Q. I am the manager of a small system in the Midwest. We have a customer who is experiencing an unusual problem. She has a pinkish substance on her bathroom fixtures that is very persistent, appearing in the shower, sink and along the water line of her toilet bowl. The problem seems to be unique to her home, as we have had no similar complaints from any other customers. We have tested the water at her tap and just before her service connection and have found nothing unusual that we think could cause this. Can you help?

A. This question seems to peek its head on a fairly regular basis. Utilities from all over the United States have experienced similar problems and contacted the Small Systems Helpline and the AWWA Technical Forum (www.awwa.org/forums) for advice on how to deal with it. The bottom line? Pink residue is less likely a problem associated with water quality than with naturally occurring airborne bacteria. The bacteria produces a pinkish film, and sometimes a dark gray film on surfaces that are regularly moist, including toilet bowls, showerheads, sink drains and tiles. The problem also more commonly occurs in humid regions of the country.

To determine the exact species of bacteria would require lengthy and costly laboratory testing, and for those reasons most homeowners are reluctant to have the tests performed. Although the exact species of bacteria is not known, most experts have concluded that this pink staining is most likely from the bacteria Serratia marcescens. These bacteria thrive on moisture, dust and phosphates and are widely distributed having been found naturally in soil, food and also in animals. The conditions for the survival of Serratia marcescens are minimal, and the bacteria may even feed upon itself in the absence of other nutrients.

Members of the Serratia genus were once known as harmless organisms that produced a characteristic red pigment. Because of this, scientists and teachers frequently used it in experiments to track other microbes. More recently, Serratia marcescens has been found to be pathogenic to some people, having been identified as a cause of urinary tract infections, wound infections, and pneumonia, and is no longer recommended for use in school experiments.

Many times, the pinkish film appears during and after new construction or remodeling activities. The dirt and dust stirred up from the work probably contains Serratia bacteria. Once airborne, the bacteria seek moist environments to proliferate. Some people have even noted the pink residue in their pet’s water bowl, which causes no apparent harm and can be easily cleaned off. Others have indicated that their experience with this nuisance occurs during a time of year that their windows are open for the majority of the day. These airborne bacteria can come from any number of naturally occurring sources, and the condition can be further aggravated if customers remove the chlorine from their water by way of an activated carbon filter.

What to do - Short of buying pink fixtures, the best solution to keep these surfaces free from the bacterial film is continual cleaning. A chlorinous compound is best, but use care with abrasives to avoid scratching the fixtures, which will make them even more susceptible to bacteria. Chlorine bleach can be periodically stirred into the toilet tank and flushed into the bowl itself. As the tank refills, more bleach can be added. Three to five tablespoons of fresh bleach should be all that is necessary. A toilet cake that contains a disinfectant can keep a residual in the water at all times. The porous walls of a toilet tank can harbor many opportunistic organisms.

Cleaning and flushing with chlorine will not necessarily eliminate the problem, but will help to control these bacteria. Keep bathtubs and sinks wiped down and dry to avoid this problem. Using a cleaning solution that contains chlorine will help curtail the onset of the bacteria.

While all water utilities are concerned about the quality of the product they are supplying to their customers, they cannot guarantee water quality once it leave the pressurized distribution system and enters the customer’s plumbing. Homeowners’ individual components and the cleanliness of their environment are not part of the utility’s responsibility to provide a safe and aesthetically pleasing product.

6. I have discolored water in my house. Is it safe and why is it discolored?

Yes, the water is safe. The substance you see is manganese, which is a natural precipitant of treated water and normally adheres to the sides and bottom of the water main. When the pressure and/or flow of the water changes the manganese can scour off the walls of the main and get into your home or business. Manganese is a natural mineral and is not harmful. Discolored water happens when a water main is bumped or moved, as in construction, or there is a change in the pressure and/or flow within the pipe, such as what happens when a fire hydrant is opened, a valve is operated or a main is broken.

7. What can I do about milky or cloudy water?

Sometimes when a repair is made to a water main, or a homeowner's water service, air can become trapped in the lines. Because the lines are under pressure, the trapped air becomes suspended in the water. The result is water that is saturated with air, and looks milky when put into a clear glass. In some cases the Water Department staff will purge the air out of the line through a fire hydrant, but in most cases it clears up on its own.

To clear this up, you can generally let your faucet run for five minutes or so, and it will run clear. This is not enough water to affect your water usage on your bill.

8. What can I do about the discolored water?

Discolored water can be caused by many factors, i.e., construction in the area, lightening strikes, operation of a fire hydrant, natural ground movement, and adding additional pumping capacity to the water system. Because most of these factors cannot be anticipated or controlled by Benton Water, it is necessary to address the situation after it has happened.

Determine if the discoloration is in your hot water or your cold water. If only your hot water is affected the problem most likely is in your hot water heater and you will have to address it as a maintenance issue.

If your cold water is affected, use as little hot water as possible to keep the discoloration out of your hot water tank.

If your water is just slightly discolored the color of a brown paper bag or lighter, open all and only your cold water taps and let them run 5-6 minutes.

Flush your toilets 2-3 times.

If the initial cold water flush does not clear up the problem, wait about an hour and repeat flushing. This amount of water should not affect your water bill. If the problem persists, DO NOT hesitate to call Benton Water, and we will send someone out.

Do not wash laundry in discolored water, it will discolor light clothes. If your water becomes discolored during a laundry in cycle, keep the laundry damp until the water clears. Rewash the clothes, DO NOT USE CHLORINE BEACH.

9. Does my water contain Fluoride?

Yes, we fluoridate the water at an approx. one (1) part per million gallons, and this is the suggested dosage recommended by the Arkansas Department of Health.

10. In the event of a water outage, who do I call?

If you pay your utility bill to Benton Utilities, call 501-776-5930. This phone number is answered 24 hours a day/365 days a year. If your bill has been turned off for non-pay, you will be required to pay the past due amount in order to get it restored.

11. Where do I go to get Water turned on at my house or business?

You need to go to the Benton Utilities Billing Services Department at the Benton Municipal Complex, 114 S. East Street in Benton. Their phone number is 501-776-5923.

12. I have a question about my bill, who do I call?

Call the Billing Services department at 501-776-5923.

 

Benton Utilities Water Distribution Department

The Benton Utilities Water Distribution Department is a water system serving residential, commercial, industrial, and master-metered customers in the City of Benton and Saline County. The Public Utilities Commissioners and employees of this department are dedicated to high system integrity and exceptional customer service.

In order to maintain a continual supply of water to our customers, the Water Distribution Department is responsible for the repair, maintenance and installation of meters, services, mains, fire hydrants, and valves.

The manager of the Benton Utilities Water Distribution Department is Steve DiCicco. He has been with this department since 1977. He is responsible for executing the daily activities in the water distribution department and coordinating these with the Benton Utilities General Manager.

Besides Mr. DiCicco, the water distribution department is staffed by a lead pipe fitter, three pipe fitters, two apprentice pipe fitters and three laborers bringing over 175 years of experience to this department. This crew works hard to accomplish the duties they are assigned to do.

Service Area – The service area of Benton Utilities Water Department includes most of the area within the boundaries of the City Limits excluding a couple new subdivisions known as Hurricane Meadows and The Oaks off Scott-Salem Road. We also provide service to customers in the Northgate Subdivision off of Salt Creek Road and the areas east and west of the northern section of Alcoa Rd including Boone Road all of the way to Hurricane Creek as well as provide wholesale water to several water associations including Salem, Southwest, and the City of Bauxite.

Fire Hydrants – This department works closely with the Benton Fire Department to maintain the fire hydrants throughout this city. Recently, we have installed several new hydrants. We are currently servicing and maintaining over 890 fire hydrants in our system.

Water Valves – This department maintains approximately 1500 water valves throughout the system. These are used to reroute water or shut water flow down in the event of an emergency.

Water Mains – Our department is responsible for maintaining all main lines that provides service to our customers as well as install any new mains. With breaks due to construction in the area and natural ground movement, repairs are required. While we aren’t able to anticipate these leaks, we try to make repairs in a timely manner.

Services – All residential and commercial customers have a service ran to their meter. Typically, when a new subdivision or strip mall is built, they will run these from the main to a meter box on the property where a meter installation is all that is required to complete our portion of the customer’s service. When a service is installed at an address where there isn’t a meter box, it requires a tap on a main by our department then the service is run from the tap.