Water pump issues lead to boil water notice in Elaine, Arkansas

ELAINE, Ark. — The town of Elaine, Arkansas is under a boil water order until electrical problems with the town’s antiquated water pump are fixed.

Folks in the Phillips County town lined up at city hall Monday for donated canned water, a safe option while the town’s water system is undependable.

“We don’t want to put anything in our stomach that’s going to hurt us later,” said resident William Quiney III.

What’s already causing stomach pains for Elaine’s Mayor Lisa Hicks Gilbert is how to find money to repair or replace the town’s water system.

“There has not been any major upgrade or updates to our water system, as far as I know, since 1961,” Gilbert said.

As the new mayor of Elaine, Gilbert inherited a water pump that no longer reliably fills the town’s water tank after a storm two weeks ago fried this circuit breaker and shut the pump down.

“Our residents were without water. Some of them had low pressure, some were completely without water for approximately three hours on Saturday,” Gilbert said.

A temporary work around didn’t last. Now, someone has to manually start and stop the pump. The low water pressure in the tank means the state issues a boil water order.

Mayor Gilbert is reminded of how residents of West Helena, Arkansas, suffered for weeks without safe drinking water after their system crashed and worries it could just as easily happen to customers served by the Elaine water system.

Setbacks impact Helena-West Helena water system repair

“There’s just a huge need for infrastructure. We’re all having infrastructure problems. I suspect it’s just the start of problems to come,” she said.

The water is being tested daily by the state and the mayor is waiting for the new breaker to be installed and the state to give the clearance to lift the boil water advisory.

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