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Bringing Clean Water to Rural Arkansas

A new water treatment facility in Boone Co. provides the first dependable, clean drinking water in region.
LEAD HILL, Ark. -- A new water treatment facility, the first in the region, will provide clean and drinkable water to residents of Boone, Newton, and Searcy Counties.

The Ozark Mountain Regional Water Authority officially unveiled the new facility on Tuesday. Andy Anderson, the chairman of the board for OMRWA, said many people in rural Arkansas have been unable to access a dependable and sanitary supply for many years.

"There's been lots of water shortages around here," Anderson said. "They've had to haul water in the summer time because their wells run dry."

The facility cost more than $55 million to build and received stimulus money in the form of grants and loans. Anderson estimated that the project's contractors employed more than 600 workers. And the government website that tracks money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act lists more than 160 new jobs created in 2012 as a result of the project.

Click Here to Find Other Projects Receiving Stimulus Money

US Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) voted for the stimulus bill and spoke at the official opening of the water plant. He stressed the importance of funding infrastructure projects that would help develop areas like rural Ark.

"This is an example where 20 thousand Arkansans get water," he said, "fresh clean drinking water, because of government spending."

Public health officials have long lamented the available water supply in parts of rural Arkansas. Lance Jones, a water expert for the Arkansas Dept. of Health, said funding was an issue for projects involving pipes traveling along the rocky terrain of the Ozarks.

"It's expensive to run those pipes," he said. "You have to have clean water to have a healthy life. And you have to have ample water. That's what these communities are facing."

Reporter's Note: An earlier version of the story mischaracterized the number of jobs created as a result of the project, noting that there were approximately 160 jobs created throughout its duration. The figure came from the recovery.gov website, but only took 2012 into account. KOLR10 regrets the error and apologizes for the mistake.

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