Home Archived January 13, 2017
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Reporter: Melissa Dunbar
Scientists Test For Clean Drinking Water
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After days and days of rain, workers from the U.S. Geological Survey Department are still busy dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Wednesday, they braved the cold temperatures to go boating in search of water quality samples.

Hydrologist Jan Heavener and Lab Technician Sharon Sweeney bundled up to ride the open waters of Lake Maumelle. It is the state's largest watershed, and provides water to nearly 400,000 people. It's their job to make sure it is clean and safe, especially after all the rain we just had.

Heavener explains, "We will lower this into the water and take readings every five feet from the surface to the bottom."

Water sampling is one of the last things the scientists will do after a big rainstorm hits. The storms that keep them busy.

Heavener says, "We had extremely heavy rain. We were able to catch the flow. We were able to find out how much flow as coming in and take samples as it came in."

They used to test the water just four times a year, but now the water quality program has been expanded and they'll be testing it every month. Wednesday is the first day of that new program.

Bruno Kirsch with Central Arkansas Water says, "It gives you additional testing to ensure there isn't anything going on in between the quarters and the monthly time periods. You get a better snapshot."

Jan and Sharon get some of their results instantly but must wait weeks to get them all. By then, they'll be back out there doing it all over again.

Heavener says, "Anytime you have any changes with large amounts of rain or heavy flows like we did this weekend, there will be a great sample advantage to be out here."

The most amount of Central Arkansas Water customers live in North Little Rock and Little Rock. However, Lake Maumelle also provides water for Jacksonville, Bryant, Shannon Hills and other surrounding smaller communities.

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