Liberty Utilities releases response to Pine Bluff water issues

Local News

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Liberty Utilities responded to an order from the Arkansas Public Service Commission by releasing a report explaining what was behind the water problems.

At its lowest point, Liberty says water pressure fell to a fifth of what it should be. 

According to the report, Liberty brought in additional crews to help find leaks on Sunday, February 21.  

Since then, Liberty said in the report that crews found 252 leaks or breaks in customer pipes, and another 22 on Liberty’s system. Liberty noted in the report that nothing on its system was a “major leak.” 

The report doesn’t mention problems at Plant one, which several community leaders keep questioning. 

“I feel that that plant had not been operating at full capacity for some time and this problem just exposed that,” Mayor Shirley Washington told us in an interview on Wednesday. “I suspect they’re not being totally transparent with us.” 

In the report Liberty claims it initiated its Emergency Management Plan on Thursday, February 18th.  

Per the Public Service Commission order, Liberty also had to include a copy of its Emergency Management Plan. Liberty included two versions of the plan. One was last updated on March 1, 2017. The other version was updated February 22, 2021, which is 5 days after the water pressure dropped.  

We found the 2017 plan included outdated contacts lists for its own employees and community leaders who company will communicate with during emergent situations.  

One of the first pages of the 2017 plan listed 12 Liberty employees, on the 2021 plan only 2 of those employees were on the list, everyone else was different.  

The 2017 plan also listed a County Judge and Sheriff who have both been out of those respective offices for two years. It also listed a Chief of Police who retired a couple of months before the plan was put in place.  

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