TUCKERMAN, AR (KAIT) – Tuckerman residents have turned on their faucets recently to find brown-colored water pouring out once again.
Tuckerman Mayor Larry Bowen says the water plant's 30-year-old scraper drive broke down, and his office has since received numerous reports from neighbors about discolored water. The mayor says the city has now fixed the scraper, so people should expect their water to clear up in a few more days.
This quick fix, however, gives families little relief, as many say they never know what to expect their water to look like when they turn on the tap.
For the past five years, Burl Ledbetter and his wife have lived in a house on Jana Street in Tuckerman. He says, soon after moving in, he started noticing problems with the water supply.
"The water just, bam, turns brown on you," Ledbetter said, "no warning whatsoever."
In October 2011, he says his wife put a load of laundry into the washing machine. When she pulled it out, brown stains covered the soaked clothing. They had to dispose of all the clothes, which he valued at almost $200.
"I called the mayor and asked him if the city had some type of compensation system for citizens whose laundry is damaged because of the brown water," Ledbetter explained, "and he told me, no, that they have the powder that they give you. But if you've already washed your clothes and dried them, you're out of luck."
Ledbetter's wife kept a set of shorts, which still has tea-colored stains around the waistband and pockets. He says the shorts used to be a bright yellow, but the powder provided by the city has faded the fabric.
"I think the short-term solution would be go ahead and hook onto the water in Newport. It's not that far. They could lay the pipe, get that going and then just start from scratch with our whole system," Ledbetter said. "It's an antique. They say it's an antique, so why do we keep putting Band-Aids on an antique?"
This week, the Ledbetters were unable to use the $10,000 spa tub recently installed in their bathroom. They took photos of the tub filled with brown water, though it has now cleared.
Region 8 News, however, received a photo from a viewer Wednesday morning. It showed her sink filled to the brim with water that looked like sweet tea. One neighbor also posted a video on YouTube last week showing his bathtub filled with the discolored water.
"It's the same old problem, no solution and no long term plan," Ledbetter added.
Mayor Bowen would only to speak to Region 8 News over the phone. He said he would appear on camera again once an engineer has finished compiling a report on Tuckerman's 30-year-old water system.
Until there's a more comprehensive plan, the mayor says the city will have to address problems as they arise.