FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Phase II of emergency water conservation is in effect for Fort Smith and Van Buren after the Lee Creek Water Treatment Plant experienced a mechanical issue and was partially shut down for maintenance.

According to the City of Fort Smith, the plant was still able to produce five million gallons per day by using a small backup system at the start of the maintenance. Lake Fort Smith was also able to increase water production to maintain the water supply to the city.

After the maintenance was completed, staff reportedly began the process to return the plant to full water production, but another maintenance issue was found that required Lee Creek to be completely shut down for repair.

The repairs are projected to be completed by Monday, Aug. 8 with full-water production restored on Friday, Aug. 12. Throughout this 10-day timeframe, the City says there will be no compromise to public health or safety.

Fort Smith says until further notice, lawn watering and irrigation are prohibited, as well as outdoor water use/washing, filling swimming pools, etc. Residents and businesses are strongly encouraged to conserve water at this time.

The requirements of the water conservation declaration are provided below:

  • No person shall use water to such an extent as to allow water to escape from his premises onto public property, such as alleys or streets, nor onto another person’s property.
  • Refrain from the following uses of water: Watering lawns, shrubs, plants, trees, and gardens. The watering of shrubs, plants, trees, and gardens is permitted only by a handheld hose and should be limited to the minimum amounts necessary to sustain plant life. All lawn and turf watering from City sources is prohibited.
  • Washing motor vehicles, trailers, airplanes, or boats. This does not apply to commercial car washes and licensed dealerships, but we ask they use as little water as possible.
  • Filling swimming pools or fountains
  • Washing building exteriors
  • The use of water from fire hydrants at any time for construction purposes, fire drills, or routine hydrant testing is prohibited. Only non-potable water may be used for dirt compaction, earth moving operations, or street base course construction.
  • Golf course watering and other commercial irrigation from City sources shall be done only to the extent necessary to preserve turf and other plant life. Golf courses are permitted to water only greens and tee boxes from City sources. Golf course fairway and rough watering and school football and baseball field watering from City sources is specifically prohibited.
  • The washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, parking lots, concrete tennis courts, and other hard-surfaced areas by hosing or by use of water directly from faucets or other City sources is prohibited. Food processing and food service establishments may engage in such use of water only to the extent necessary to maintain and preserve public health and in compliance with any state or federal regulations. Restaurants and other food service establishments may hose or wash only walkways immediately adjacent to entrances and not beyond 10 feet of entrances and not beyond 10 feet of garbage facilities, food delivery or food serving areas.

Highway 71 Water District No. 1 released an identical water conservation notice for its customers for the same issue.

KNWA/FOX24 spoke with Van Buren utilities director Steve Dufresne who said Fort Smith is “working around clock to help us ensure water gets back to Van Buren and he is getting updates by the hour.”

He said once water is restored, there will most likely be a boil order in Van Buren. Right now, the city is opening some valves to allow water from a higher pressure plain to be sent to the most affected areas as temporary assistance.

Dufresne says they want to make sure no one is completely out of water. He said several businesses in Van Buren were out this morning and are now restored due to the rerouted water.