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CAW Officials Pushing For Pipeline Reroute

MAYFLOWER, AR -- An official with Central Arkansas Water spoke Monday on the agency's worries about the proximity of an oil pipeline to one of the most important resources in the region.
MAYFLOWER, AR -- An official with Central Arkansas Water spoke Monday on the agency's worries about the proximity of an oil pipeline to one of the most important resources in the region.

The Lake Maumelle watershed supplies water to 400,000 people, and the same 20-inch pipeline that recently burst open in Mayflower runs within 600 feet.

Unlike with the spill in Mayflower where there were roads for heavy machinery and crews to use in the response, at Lake Maumelle clean up would be much more difficult, according to officials.

"It's really cool to have such a pristine, beautiful lake 20-25 minutes from my house," said Julie Mcvey who was enjoying some fishing Monday afternoon.

"For me, this is almost unlike any other lake in the state," said Mcvey's husband Jon Musser.

Both said they're worried the resource will not be there for future generations to enjoy.

The worry stems from what happened with the Exxon Mobil-owned Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower.  March 29th the pipeline ruptured, spilling an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil in a residential neighborhood. 

The pipeline also runs right up against the Lake Maumelle watershed.  Central Arkansas Water shares the couple's worries and is trying to do something about it.

"Central Arkansas Water has been concerned about the presence of the pipeline and the risks that it poses to our drinking water supply for sometime,"  said John Tynan, the Watershed Protection Manager at C.A.W.

In light of the spill in Mayflower, C.A.W. is demanding Exxon Mobil reroute the pipeline

"We have asked them to prepare a report in the next six months that would look at a number of options for relocating the pipeline out of the watershed and then a plan to implement that within five years," Tynan said.

CAW officials admit rerouting the pipeline will cost Exxon Mobil millions of dollars.  But it's money Musser believes would be well spent.

"It's expensive for them to move the line, but if that's gong to be an ongoing process they're going to be able to profit from, I think they have to look at where that pipelines going," he said.

In the meantime, CAW wants Exxon Mobil to perform inspections to make sure the section that runs near Lake Maumelle is sound before pumping starts again.

The agency also wants Exxon to beef up its emergency response plans.

A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said in a statement that the company would respond "in due course."
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