Unsafe water in Mississippi County

WILSON, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Department of Health issued boil water orders in Mississippi County.

A broken valve reduced the flow of chlorine in the water systems used by residents in Wilson and Marie, making it unsafe for consumption.

"Our machine went down on us, the chlorinator, and we weren't putting enough chlorine in the water and the health department came by and we took a sample and we didn't have enough chlorine in it so they shut us down," said Wilson Mayor Otto Warhurst.

South Mississippi County School District superintendent Gary Masters said he got a message on a Friday afternoon that meant big changes for a couple of schools in his district starting the next Monday morning.

"We got a notice from (Mayor Warhurst) that there would be a boil order on the water system for a few days, and so I immediately sent a text to all the principals notifying them."

Mayor Warhurst said a crew went door to door delivering notices to residents and he published a notice in the local weekly newspaper.

Wilson Elementary and Rivercrest High School are the two schools affected. Students were not allowed to drink from water fountains or wash their hands with tap water. Cafeteria workers boiled water before using it and students cleaned their hands with alcohol based hand sanitizer.

"We've been providing a bottle of water to each student in the morning and then if they want more water that's distributed throughout the day," said Superintendent Masters.

"I thought it was bad because I didn't know we were going to get bottles of water to drink," said 9-year-old Kyler Williams.

Superintendent Masters said he is not aware of any students in his district getting sick from the water.

"We've gone through about 15,000 bottles of water, but we're trying to insure that students always have water to drink that's safe," said Superintendent Masters.

Before Region 8 News left Wilson Thursday the Arkansas Department of Health lifted the water ban. Mayor Warhurst plans to deliver notices to residents to let them know.

"We had to send in two days of good samples. We sent them in Monday and Tuesday and got them all back and the health department called a while ago, and everything was fine to go."

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