Turrell dealing with sewer pond problems

Mayor: ‘I need help’

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

Turrell is asking for help to fix its sewer pond before they get hit with fines that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. “I need help,” said Mayor Dorothy Cooper. “We’re a poor town. But this sewer pond has got to be maintained. It’s a tremendous health issue. We need to get this corrected soon.” Mayor Dorothy Cooper said the pond is not draining properly because beavers have dammed up the main pipe. “It’s not pulling any water through there,” Cooper said. “And it is hard to get any equipment in there to knock loose what the beavers have done. And to make matters worse, getting to the pond is difficult this time of year because of the mud, and the levee is also in bad shape. “Right now, we’re crossing a farmer’s field to get there,” Cooper said. “And there is another problem. The levee is so unstable that you can’t put any heavy equipment on there.” Although it is the city’s responsibility to maintain the sewer pond, Cooper said it has been neglected for years. The city simply doesn’t have the money to fix all that needs to be done. Cooper said they would need to put a road in, build a bridge to get to the sewer pond itself, a backhoe to break up the beaver dam, and lots of gravel from the county to repair the levee. “The (county) judge came out and looked at it. But is going to be too much for the county — probably over $100,000,” Cooper said. “I’m not trying to put this back on anybody else. It’s my job now to get the pond straight. We can’t worry about who didn’t do what. It’s got to be done and it’s got to be done now. But I can’t do it myself.” County Judge Woody Wheeless acknowledged it will be a costly fix. “It’s got major problems,” Wheeless said. “And she is wanting us to put in a bridge. It would need four flat cars and you’re talking about $30,000 apiece. And right now it is too muddy to get to. And once you get there the levee walls have deteriorated and are not stable. They need to be reworked.” Cooper said she met with Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality when she first took office to advise them of the city’s water problems. Although they have not been cited by ADEQ, Cooper said it is only a matter of time. “I sat down to talk to them to let them know I inherited this and that I am trying my best to get it taken care of,” Cooper said. “But as everybody knows, ADEQ has rules and regulations. It would be crazy for us to get a $200,000 fine. That’s more than our revenue for a year.” Arkansas Rural Water Association has been out to see the pond and Cooper said she is waiting for their report and hoping for possible financial help. “We’re working on some things,” Cooper said. “I just need to be patient. I plan to get back with them next week and see where we are. If not, I’ve been to the governor’s office before and I don’t mind going again. But we need some help. Immediately. It’s a real emergency situation. There has got to be something out there to help us get this fixed.”

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