Pine Bluff Mayor says she has lost trust in Liberty Utilities after water issues

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As water pressure problems continue in Pine Bluff Wednesday night, city leaders said it’s raising their concern that Liberty Utilities isn’t being transparent.

Water pressure dropped in Pine Bluff last week, something Liberty Utilites said it believes is being caused by leaks.  

“We’ve got crews all over the place,” said Mike Beatty who’s the Vice President of Gas and Water Operations for  Liberty Utilities – Central.

Several city leaders, like Mayor Shirley Washington are questioning if there’s also a problem at one of Liberty’s three water plants in the city, Plant 1. 

“I feel that that plant had not been operating at full capacity for some time and this problem just exposed that,” Mayor Washington said.  

According to Liberty filters at the plant needed maintenance, which crews rushed and finished before the storms.  

Then last week Beatty says a 16 inch wide pipe broke and it’s since been fixed. 

As of Wednesday there was lots of water outside Plant 1, enough that it filled the area around one of the tanks.  

“It’s not uncommon for water to be around,” Beatty said. 

When we asked Beatty if failures at Plant 1 played into the drop in water pressure, he said it was hard to explain, 

“They didn’t play into the leaks, they didn’t play into the weather event,” he added. 

Mayor Washington says that discussion around Plant 1 are part of a pattern of inconsistencies in Liberty’s explanations to her.   

“On Sunday we still had a lot of snow and ice, we were walking all in it, but in that area there was nothing. So what it said to me was that some water, some warm water, melted everything out there. They said they’s not the case. I don’t know, but I suspect they’re not being totally transparent with us,” Mayor Washington said.  

She keeps circling back to a recent water bill the city received for a park which totaled nearly $30,000, much higher than the couple hundred on a typical bill.   

“Evidently there is something major out there, there has to be a major leak somewhere” Mayor Washington said. 

She says they haven’t found the source, wondering if that’s part of a bigger problem playing out across the city

“We have had some major leaks and I think this freeze just exposed what they have not been doing to make repairs in the infrastructure,” she said.  

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