Central Arkansas Water says it's not out to take land. The utility just wants to make sure drinking water in Lake Maumelle is not polluted. In a community meeting, many residents didn't buy the utility company's argument.
Central Arkansas Water has used eminent domain to take about 1,000 acres in what it calls the critical area near the intake at Lake Maumelle. But officials with CAW say they have no plans to take any more land. Monday night, residents told CAW they can't have their land nor can they tell them how they can use it.
John Bentley grew up here on this land in the Williams Junction area on the Pulaski-Perry county line. He still lives here, along with most of his family.
"I've got seven aunts and uncles out here, and numerous cousins. We've been out here for generations. Williams Junction was my great-grandfather Williams, the little house across from the store up there is Pink Williams. He lived and died in that house," said John Bentley.
Bentley says this was the case with a lot of other families. Generations have lived and worked on this land but, they feel Central Arkansas Water will come in and change their way of life under the pretense of preserving drinking water at nearby Lake Maumelle.
"We have good quality water out here in a very rural location, which is what CAW wants. But they're trying to put land use restrictions on us out here," said Bentley
But Bentley and his neighbors are here at the community meeting to let Central Arkansas Water know they won't stand for the utility telling them how they can use their own property.
Jim Harvey with Central Arkansas Water says they have to do what they can to preserve the integrity of the drinking water and they want to partner with residents.
"Our ideal would be that we could work like they do with the Agricultural Department. That is, to pay people not to do certain things that could cause harm to the lake. That's a win-win situation," said Harvey.