Arkansas may be past the rolling blackout phase of the deep freeze of 2021, but water issues remain, with systems taxed by broken and dripping pipes and difficulties in some communities in replenishing reservoirs. The problem will worsen with the thaw and more broken pipes.

Central Arkansas Water, the Little Rock-based utility that provides water to a broad section of Central Arkansas, issued this call for conservation today:

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Central Arkansas Water is asking customers to conserve water as a measure to protect the system as the ground begins to warm and pipes begin to thaw.

While there are no issues with the amount of water available from our source lakes, the ability to treat the water to keep up with demand will place a heavy burden on the system as frozen pipes thaw. Several breaks of varying size were discovered overnight Thursday into Friday morning.

Many of these breaks were in commercial buildings that have been unoccupied during this
weather event. CAW expects to see numerous breaks as the temperature changes over the coming days, exposing leaks or creating new leaks.

As more leaks appear, it can result in substantial water losses throughout the system. Those losses make it difficult to fill the system fast enough to keep up with customer demand and the lost water.

CAW crews are working 24/7 to fix known issues and find leaks that have not been reported. More than 140 employees were dispatched at daybreak on Friday to search for broken water mains systemwide. CAW asks for the public’s help with this process. Running water from the snow thaw will be everywhere, but if you identify what appears to be a main break, please contact our emergency line immediately at (501) 377.1239.
This request to conserve water is in line with other utilities across Arkansas and several other states that have seen breaks in their systems during the unprecedented weather event. Our request for customers to conserve is to ensure the integrity of the system, and to try to eliminate the need for future boil water notices.

Customers may experience discolored water during this time. CAW has reversed some water flows to maintain pressure. This has led to scouring of pipes and discoloration of the water in some areas. Discolored water is safe, but it could stain clothing. Discoloration is caused by manganese, a natural precipitant of treated water that is not harmful, which has scoured off the walls of the pipe. Customers can run their cold-water faucet for five to six minutes to typically clear out the discolored water. Toilets should be flushed a couple of times. If this does not clear up the problem, wait an hour and try again.

Problems are being felt statewide.

In Hot Springs, the city said the water supply was at critical levels as treatment plants worked to keep up with demand.

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Mayflower stopped service for a period last night because of difficulties in replenishing storage tanks. Customers got notice at 11 p.m. that service was being turned off and would be turned back on for a short time in the morning, then turned off again.

Mayflower is among many cities where customers were instructed to boil water before using as well as to curb use.

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