With all tests conducted returning satisfactory results, people in rural Blue Mountain have been able — finally — to begin enjoying the benefits of municipal water.
By the end of last week 23 or more customers had tapped into the supply line and, in many cases, have gone from "zero water" to a virtually limitless supply.
Zero water is the term officials used to describe a water supply that is both poor in quality and low in quantity, according to Bill Garner, president of the South Logan County Public Water Facilities Board.
Garner said last week there were 15 or more customers in the Blue Mountain area who were "hauling every drop of water they use and a bunch more have sorry water — they don’t drink it or cook with it."
What Garner means by hauling is that many of those, who are now or soon will be customers of the SLCPWF, have a 500- or 1,000-gallon tank that often sits on a trailer dedicated for its use and when the supply is low the customer will drive it to Blue Mountain City Hall and fill it up, leaving city officials there a note revealing how much water was taken for billing purposes.
One of those was Richard and Phyllis Hammond, who wasted no time hooking up to the water line.
"I couldn’t believe in 2013 we were still hauling water like they did in the pioneer days," said Phyllis Hammond.
Hammond said in her family’s case the water was hauled from City Hall in one container and dumped into another for some uses and drinking and cooking water were purchased elsewhere. The problem with the hauled water, she said, was it was exposed to dust and other contaminants.
Hammond said unless you are in the straits her family and her neighbors have been, you probably cannot understand it.
"I told Richard the other day I washed my hands a thousand times with perfumed sand soap and (now) I can actually smell (the soap)," said Phyllis Hammond.
Another who hooked up as soon as possible was Pete Colclasure. Last week Pete said the first day he had water "my wife took a four-hour bath, I thought she was going to whither away. She did about 40 loads of laundry — she put all our clothes through about three times."
The physical digging and laying pipe portion of the project began back in late September but the project to pump city water to Blue Mountain was a lengthy one that started by Roberta and Damon Cravens the Justice of the Peace representing the area — the honor system for hauling water has existed at least a decade, Blue Mountain Mayor Dale Dickens said when a dedication meeting was held after the formal loan closing for the project.
It was at that meeting Colclasure told a story about drinking coffee made from water from a well on his property shortly after acquiring the property. He became extremely ill.
"It’s so much fun now to take a pot and put in under your faucet in the sink and then put it in the coffee maker," he said.
Hammond said she remembers petitions as far back as the 1980s but that those pushing for the water "really started" in 2000.
"We waited a long, long time and we’re just as excited as we can be," she said. "We even called our son in Oklahoma when we turned it on. Everybody needs to know we’ve got water."
Virtually all possibilities were explored before everything fell into place to make the Blue Mountain area part of the SLCPWF, which already supplied water to areas southwest and north of the city limits of Booneville.
In the end, in addition to a loan, the project acquired grant funding from USDA Rural Development and Arkansas Natural Resources Service, and support from the Arkansas Waterways Commission and former and current JPs, other county officials, and U.S. Senators and Congressmen.
While the rural Blue Mountain areas of Hog Thief, Bethel, Richie Road, Catlett Lane and North Lake Road have been a focal point, the project also contains another area north of Booneville including Glover-Daniels Road, Adair Road and Lakeview Drive.
Garner said last week hookups will be ready in those area once the two water test samples are approved and a tank if filled and that water receives a satisfactory test.
Combined the project was expected to supply water to about 85 customers but Garner said last week late arrivals to the project have pushed the total near 100 and he expects it to reach that plateau.
The water for the project will actually be purchased from the City of Blue Mountain, which purchases it from Magazine, which purchases it from Booneville.