Contact us at (501)776-5900

Water Department - Distribution & Meters

Water Distribution - Frequently Asked Questions

1. 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 water line 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 when 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.

2. 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 the Benton Water Department, 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.

3. 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 Dept. 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 effect your water usage on your bill.

4. Why is my water pressure low?

Most often low pressure is a problem with the private plumbing and not something Benton Water can remedy. Things like galvanized piping, faulty pressure regulators, and stopped up faucet screens can cause low pressure. At the customer's request Benton Water will perform a pressure and flow test at the meter to confirm there is adequate water to and through the meter. A comparison test will be done at an outside faucet if one is accessible at the front of the house. A note will be left reporting the results. The customer need not be home at the time of the test.

5. The water pressure in my house is too high. Can the water company turn down the pressure at my house?

To ensure that water pressure is sufficient to all our customers, it is necessary for Benton Water to maintain a higher pressure in the water mains than is recommended for your plumbing. Refer to the Arkansas Department of Health Plumbing Codes (Arkansas Plumbing Law) for approved ways to regulate the water pressure after it leaves the water meter. The water meter does not regulate the pressure in any way.

6. I need to find my house line and my pressure regulator. Can Benton Water locate them for me?

Benton Water does not have any records on how your plumbing lines are run, where your shutoff valve is or where your pressure regulator might be.

7. If the leak is across the street or the neighbor across the street ordered a new meter, why are you digging in my yard?

Water is delivered to your neighborhood by a water main system. Generally a street will have only one main running down it. To get the water to the customers on the opposite side of the street the main will need to be accessed and a SERVICE run underground from one side of the street to the other. The main is probably on your side of the street and we have to dig in your yard to tap into the main for the service line.

8. Will Benton Water Facilities leaks cause my bill to be high?

Leaks on mains, services on the street side of the meter, valves, and fire hydrants will not affect your bill. Some meter leaks on the outlet side of the meter can have an affect on your consumption and if that is the case the Water Dept. will notify Customer Service for an adjustment.

9. What is Benton Water’s area of responsibility?

Benton Water maintains the public mains, valves, fire hydrants, services to the meters, valve boxes, meter boxes and water meters in our system. Any leaks at the connection and beyond on the customers side of the meter is considered the customer’s responsibility.

10. My water meter is hard to turn off and on. Can you fix it so I can turn it off and on easily?

The valve on the water meter is for use by Benton Water personnel. If we inspect the meter and find the shutoff valve operates to our satisfaction it will be left as is. The Arkansas Health Department Plumbing Code requires the customer to have a shutoff valve outside the meter box that will shut off the water to the entire structure in case of an emergency. It is a good idea to locate your shutoff valve, be sure it is in good operating condition and mark it so it is easily operated in case of an emergency.

11. You tore up my yard working on the water lines. What are you going to do about it?

When it is necessary to excavate on your property Benton Water will make every effort to return the site to the condition we found it. Depending on the time of year this can take several weeks if sod and plant material is not available at the time of the initial excavation or the area is too wet for equipment at the time.

12. There was nothing wrong with my water meter. Why did you suddenly come out and change it?

Meters, like other equipment, age with time. We change out meters to ensure accurate use of the meter.

13. I am going to landscape my yard and change the grade. How do I get the meter box and/or valve box adjusted to the new grade?

As soon as the new grade is established call 776-5930, and they will send someone to adjust the boxes. Be sure to give a few days notice because it is not always possible to respond to such requests immediately.

14. There are colored markings all over my yard and in the street. What's going on?

Arkansas state law requires anyone making an excavation to notify owners of underground utilities of their intent to dig in a specific location. The white lines are the area of the intended excavation and the colored lines are the location of underground utilities. You may want to visit the Arkansas One Call Home Page for more details.

15. There was a main break and my water was off. Do I need to boil my water now?

It is not always necessary to issue a Boil Order every time the water is turned off. There are several factors that are considered before a Boil Order is issued. If it is determined a "Boil Order' is required you will be notified either by a door hanger or signs posted in the affected area. Additionally the media will be notified for broadcast.

16. I have questions about doing my own plumbing or I want to check out what my plumber is telling me. Can Benton Water answer my plumbing questions?

Benton Water personnel are not plumbers and are not qualified to answer plumbing questions. You may find it helpful to visit the Arkansas Department of Health site and browse the "Plumbing Law" section, Division of Protective Health Codes Services Page.

17. Why did you turn off the water in my neighborhood without telling us?

Keeping our customers informed is a priority with Benton Water. If Benton Water has a planned project that requires the water to be off, every effort will be made to notify our customers prior to the shutdown.

However, many times there are spontaneous breaks or breaks caused by contractors hitting the water lines. In those emergency situations we will respond as rapidly as possible to get the water shut off, make repairs and get the water back on. Even in an emergency we will make every effort to keep our customers informed.

18. Benton Water did an investigation and said the problem appears to be on my lines. Will you tell me who to call and what they need to do to fix the problem?

Because Benton Water employees are not plumbers, we do not specifically identify plumbing problems or answer specific plumbing questions. To get the problem repaired the Arkansas Plumbing Code allows a property owner to make repairs on his own plumbing lines. If you are not the property owner and/or do not feel you can make repairs, we recommend you check the Yellow Pages for a licensed plumber for advice and assistance.

19. What happens when you make a trouble call to the Distribution Department?

Your call will be received by someone at Benton Water Dept. during normal business hours or at Answerfone after hours. We have crews on call 24 hours a day to ensure customers receive quick and quality service.

The person you talk to will make an effort to answer your questions and concerns immediately. If it is determined that an onsite investigation is necessary, the appropriate personnel will be dispatched. The problem will be prioritized and dispatched to the pipe fitter responsible.

The employee will conduct an onsite investigation of the problem. If the problem is one that Benton Water will repair the employee will determine if emergency, high priority or routine repairs are needed. Emergency orders will prompt the immediate notification of crews to respond to the area. High priority orders are worked the next business day and routine orders are worked as the schedule permits.

20. I need to dig and I know there is underground utilities in my area, who do I call?

You need to contact Arkansas One-Call at 1-800-482-8998 or www.arkonecall.com. They will notify all underground utilities in your area for you and tell you the proper procedures.

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

If you pay your utility bill to Benton Utilities, call 501-776-5933. 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.

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

You will go to the Benton Utilities Billing / Customer Service Department at the Benton Municipal Complex at 114 S/ East Street. Their phone number is 501-776-5923.

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

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

24. I need an plumbing inspection, who do I call?

Call the City of Benton Community Development Division to schedule one, their number is 501-776-5938.

25. How do I read my water meter?

See section on water meters (following)

Water Meters

Water Meter Information

Master Meters – The water sold wholesale to the water associations which provide service to outlying areas of Saline County is measured by a master meter. These are read monthly by personnel from our department and a representative from Water Users, LLC, the office for all of these associations, while we maintain all readings for the master meter at the City of Bauxite.

Types of Water Meters & How to read your Water Meter

There are several reasons why you'd want to be able to locate and read your water meter. First, you might be interested in just how much water you use in a day. By reading your meter at the beginning and the end of the day you can compare the two totals to tell how much water you and your family used. The second reason is to check for leaks. If you turn off all the taps in your house, look at your meter and it is still turning, chances are you have a leak somewhere.

Here are some hints to help you find and read your water meter:

STEP 1: Locate Your Meter

Your water meter is generally located near the curb in front of your home or place of business in a direct line with the main outside faucet. It is housed in a concrete or black plastic box. Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver. Please, do not use your fingers. Insert the tool into one of the holes and pry the lid off. Visually examine the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects or other animals.

STEP 2: Read Your Water Meter

All customers within the Benton Water Dept. coverage area have their water use measured by a meter. These results in each customer paying their share of operating the system based upon the amount of water used.

There are two basic types of water meters -- the straight-reading meter which resembles an odometer in a car, and the round-reading meter which has several separate dials.

STEP 3: How to Read Your Meter

Benton Water uses several brands of water meters. All have a meter register that looks very much like the odometer in your car, and have six or seven digits to read. The meter readings are read in thousands of gallons. The billing system is programmed to take these meter readings and calculate the correct water usage in thousands of gallons.

Dial Read Meter – This is one of the oldest types of meters in our system. The reading on your bill is derived from reading the digits one at a time from the one million down to the tens, rounding all numbers down to the lower number in the sequence. Your reading on your bill will only reflect the first four digits of this reading. This meter reads 615 or 615,386 gallons of water.
Badger Meter – This is one of the older type meters in our system. The reading on your bill is derived from reading the first four digits that are black in the odometer style reading device, your meters are read in thousands of gallons. This meter reads 2,955 or 2,955,000 gallons of water.
Sensus Meter - This is one type of meter in our system. The reading on your bill is derived from reading the first four digits that are black in the odometer style reading device, your meters are read in thousands of gallons. This meter reads 4,567 or 4,567,000 gallons of water. The red hand is a leak detector, so if everything is off including things like icemakers and it is moving, you have a leak on your side of the meter.
Sensus Meter - This is the newest type of meter in our system. The reading on your bill is derived from reading the first four digits from the left in the odometer style reading device, your meters are read in thousands of gallons. This meter reads 0 or 2.7 gallons of water. The red dial is a leak detector, so if everything is off including things like icemakers and it is moving, you have a leak on your side of the meter. This meter is fitted with a electronic reading device which transmits readings to a computer in a truck at meter reading time.

Water Saving Tips

Below are a few water conservation methods that all customers of Benton Utilities should utilize:

Conserve Water in Your Home

In the Bathroom...

  • Turn off the running water while you brush your teeth. (Save 1 to 5 gallons of water per minute.)
  • Turn off the water while shaving. Fill the sink with a little water and rinse your razor in that. (Save 1 to 5 gallons of water per minute.)
  • Install low-flow shower heads and toilets. (Save 1 to 5 gallons of water per minute.)
  • Take shorter showers . You can save 2 to 10 gallons for every minute you cut back. Or take a shallow bath instead. (Short showers with a low-flow head uses less water than a bath!)
  • In the shower, turn off the water in-between soaping and rinsing.
  • Fix leaky faucets. Save up to 2,700 gallons of water per year.
  • Fill your bathtub only half full for an adult-size bath. Save up to 12 gallons in a 24-gallon bathtub.
  • While waiting for the shower or bath water to warm up, save that water and use it on your house plants, flower beds, trees, for pet drinking water or elsewhere.
  • Get running toilets fixed. A running toilet can use as much as 30 to 500 gallons of water per day. If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run, replace it or get it fixed.
  • Install a toilet dam or displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. Put an inch or two of sand or pebbles in the bottom of a quart or larger container and fill the rest of the container with water. Put the cap on and place the bottle in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanism. The container will save on each flush without impairing the efficiency of the toilet.
  • Check your toilets for leaks. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the coloring begins to appear in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Even a small leak can waste thousands of gallons a month.

In the Kitchen...

  • Don't use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Rinse vegetables and fruits with a sink full of clean water rather than running the water the whole time.
  • Don't run the tap to get cold or hot water. Keep a bottle or pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap water to cool it. Heat water in the microwave, instead of running the hot water tap for hot water.
  • When washing dishes by hand, don't keep water running. Use a sink full of water to wash and another sink full of water to rinse.
  • Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run over them while you scrape.
  • Reuse the water left over from cooking foods like pasta and vegetables to water house plants.
  • Run only full loads of dishes in your dish-washing machine. (Save up to 15 gallons of water per load).

In the Rest of the House...

  • Run only full loads of clothes in your washing machine. (Save up to 23 gallons of water for every load you don't run).
  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or cleaning around the house.
  • Don't use or install ornamental water features unless they recycle water.
  • Use high-efficiency appliances if possible.
  • Get leaky faucets and pipes fixed. A small drip can waste up to 2,700 gallons per year.

Conserve Water in Your Business

  • Restaurants should only serve water when asked.
  • Have your system checked for leaks and get them repaired.
  • Teach water awareness to employees.
  • Install toilet dams or displacement devices to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. Put an inch or two of sand or pebbles in the bottom of a quart or larger container and fill the rest of the container with water. Put the cap on and place the bottle in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanism. The container will save on each flush without impairing the efficiency of the toilet.
  • Check your toilets for leaks. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the coloring begins to appear in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately.
  • Even a small leak can waste thousands of gallons.
  • Install low-flow shower heads in shower facilities.
  • Use high-efficiency equipment and appliances.
  • Don't use or install ornamental water features unless they recycle water.
  • Place someone in charge of your conservation program, making it part of their regular duties.
  • Know where your water gets used. It is important to know how much water is being used for each of your firm's industrial processes and/or domestic needs. Monitor your water bills to see how you're doing.

Outdoor Conservation Tips

Outdoor Watering

  • Water your lawn every three days. Your lawn doesn't need more than this.
  • Water after 10 p.m. or before 10 a.m. to avoid evaporation.
  • Keep sprinklers from watering pavement. Position them so that water lands on the lawn and shrubs.
  • The idea is to cycle your watering so most of the water gets into the soil. High clay-content soils absorb water very slowly, so it is necessary to apply no more water than the ground can absorb. Over watering does not help your lawn.
  • Don't water if it's raining - even if it is your day/time to water. The point is to conserve our water!
  • Reset your automatic sprinkler system as the season changes to eliminate unnecessary watering.
  • Homes with automatic sprinklers use up to 50 percent more water than manually operated systems.
  • Treat brown spots in the lawn with the hose instead of running the entire sprinkler system.
  • Use drip or soaker-type irrigation for all plantings except turf.
  • It's a good idea to review the way you use all the areas of your yard and prioritize your landscaping into high-care zones, moderate-care zones and low-care zones. Then water accordingly. If you have some high priority areas that you want to keep green, you may need to let other areas go brown.

Outdoor Water Saving Lawn Care Methods

  • When possible, place plants with similar watering needs in the same areas.
  • Border all lawn areas with low-water ground covers to reduce water runoff and buffer the grass from hot pavement.
  • Use an auto-shutoff nozzle on your garden hose.
  • Aerate your lawn. This increases water infiltration into the soil, allowing more water to get to the root zone. Aerating also adds air to the soil, which aids plant growth.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing. Fertilizer increases the need for water. Fertilize appropriately.
  • Set lawnmower blades to cut grass at about 2 to 3 inches long. Mowing grass shorter dries out the soil faster and increases water use.
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn. This will reduce evaporation and add organic matter to the soil, allowing it to retain more water.
  • Compost your yard and food waste in your back yard. Compost is a valuable tool for reducing your landscape's water needs.
  • Spread mulch or compost around plants to reduce water loss and weed growth.

Other Outdoor Water Uses

  • Wash you car at a commercial car wash that recycles its water. (Look for the automatic drive-through car washes. The manual ones often don't recycle water.) Or use a bucket and/or hose with an automatic shut off nozzle at home.
  • Don't hose down your driveway. Sweep it instead.
  • Remember, you are the key to conserving water, and you can make a difference by taking simple steps each day, if you do at least one thing a day to save water. Even if the savings are small, every drop counts.