National Rural Water Association

2915 S. 13th Street

Duncan, OK 73533

580-252-0629   FAX 580-255-4476

Contact:  Chris Wilson,

April 13, 2009
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Tornado destroys Arkansas utility, rural water rushes to help


LONOKE, Ark. – The water system for Dierks, Ark. used to sit in a pine forest, supplying water to just over 1,200 residents. Now it’s gone. A tornado that cut through southwest Arkansas last Thursday destroyed the utility, leaving the town without water and the Arkansas Rural Water Association hurrying to provide assistance.

                “Dierks is in my area and Friday I was visiting systems after the storm,” explained Jim Philipp, a ARWA Training Specialist who lives in Hot Springs. “I had hit several communities before I made it to Dierks.”

                The damage was shocking.

                “It demolished their system,” Philipp said. “I think there’s a 60,000-gallon standpipe still standing, maybe a clarifier, but that’s it.”

                The damage left the community completely without water, and no chance to restore service without outside help. Fortunately, there was help on hand.

                “The operator had contacted a neighboring system, called the Nashville Rural Water System,” Philipp explained. “I helped them connect some fire hose to create a temporary connection.”

                The hose connected a Nashville System fire hydrant to the intake of the Dierks system. Despite it’s crude appearance, the temporary connection provided an easy way to supply Dierks with limited water. The hydrant uses treated water, the same as any home faucet. Philipp and the water operators sterilized the hose and connected an adapter, allowing the Nashville utility to pressurize the Dierks distribution system.

                “It’s supplying them with about 250 gallons a minute,” the Training Specialist said.

                The connection supplied limited drinking water over the weekend, until more help could arrive. Philipp said that National Guard was scheduled to deliver two portable water purification units the following Monday.

               “With those, they’ll be running at 100 percent until they can rebuild their system,” he said.




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