FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The City of Bethel Heights is facing hefty fines due to violating water quality regulations.
According to court documents signed Friday, Aug. 16, the director of the Division of Environmental Quality has determined that issues with unsafe practices at one of the Bethel Heights wastewater treatment plants have violated the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act.
There have been at least 25 violations, according to court documents.
The city has 30 calendar days from the signed date to pay the Division of Environmental Quality $101,200 in civil penalties.
However, Black has 20 calendar days to request a hearing to appeal the matter.
Residents have reported that frequent flooding and runoff from the plant, that is located on Lincoln Street, is threatening their well-being. They’ve reported extreme contaminated conditions and have said sewage has been dumped onto their properties and ponds.
The plant has been inspected numerous times by the Arkansas Department of Environment Quality and the Arkansas Department of Health, and findings from those inspections back those claims, according to court documents.
Additionally, the plant has tested positive for high levels of fecal bacteria and E. coli, according to to court documents.
Those with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality advised Black that weekly samples for fecal bacteria and E.coli must be submitted weekly.
Bethel Heights Mayor Cynthia Black continues to deny all claims of dumping and flooding of sewage to residential property and ponds, however Black was informed July 25 that the contaminated runoff could reach the Illinois River.
To curtail the matter, those with the Division of Environmental Quality have had Black submit them a corrective action plan.
They notified Black that she needed to address certain issues, but she failed to do so, according to the Division of Environmental Quality. They determined her submission to them was inadequate, as it didn’t fulfill state law requirements.
Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith has also said enough is enough.
Smith told Black and other city officials that they have until Aug. 30 to cleanup wastewater on residential properties. Fecal coliform levels must be lowered within 90 days or he will pursue criminal charges against them.