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Water utility sued for imposing water restrictions

Maumelle water restrictions are easing, but not lifted, so residents are slapping the utility with a lawsuit claiming the restrictions are downright illegal.

MAUMELLE, AR - Water on the wrong day in Maumelle and you could be slapped with a fine. Thursday, three water customers claimed that's illegal and filed a lawsuit against the water utility to prove it.

"They're out of line, big time," said attorney Bilenda Harris-Ritter, who is handling the case. "They don't have any authority for what they're doing."

Harris-Ritter and her husband, George Ritter, filed a 50 page suit against Maumelle Water Management claiming the utility "has no power to regulate water usage" within the city because the city doesn't own it.

"Regulating water and health and safety, that is the city's responsibility," said Ritter.

In the heat, property owners are over-watering their lawns to make sure their grass stays green.

"They would turn their sprinklers on and essentially leave them on all day," said MWM General Manager Barry Heller on August 1st, explaining why water supplies are low and the system is getting pumped at full capacity. "I hate to be the water police but that's what we're being forced to do."

But the Ritters believe the only one with the right to police water usage is the mayor, who is staying far away from this one. Friday, the utility's attorney Vaughan Hankins said he has, "No comment now, and when I do comment, it will be in court," suggesting he's ready to move the case from the front yard to the courthouse.

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