Central Arkansas Water

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) are the most common inquiries from consumers and stakeholders which may be helpful while searching for information regarding the utility climate and business practices. You may view some of the utility’s popular informational brochures on this page. Just click one of the links below to view an Adobe PDF version.

General Information

Distribution Department

  • I have discolored water in my house. Is it safe and why is it discolored?

    Yes, the water is safe. The substance you see is manganese, which is a natural precipitant of treated water and normally adheres to the sides and bottom of the water main. When the pressure and/or flow of the water changes the manganese can scour off the walls of the main and get into your home or business. Manganese is a natural mineral and is not harmful. Discolored water happens when a water main is bumped or moved, as in construction, or there is a change in the pressure and/or flow within the pipe, such as what happens when a fire hydrant is opened, a valve is operated or a main is broken.

  • What can I do about the discolored water?

    Discolored water can be caused by many factors, i.e., construction in the area, lightening strikes, operation of a fire hydrant, natural ground movement, and adding additional pumping capacity to the water system. Because most of these factors can not be anticipated or controlled by Central Arkansas Water, it is necessary to address the situation after it has happened.

    • Determine if the discoloration is in your hot water or your cold water. If only your hot water is affected the problem most likely is in your hot water heater and you will have to address it as a maintenance issue.
    • If your cold water is affected, use as little hot water as possible to keep the discoloration out of your hot water tank.
    • If your water is just slightly discolored the color of a brown paper bag or lighter, open all and only your cold water taps and let them run 5-6 minutes.
    • Flush your toilets 2-3 times.
    • If the initial cold water flush does not clear up the problem, wait about an hour and repeat flushing. This amount of water should not affect your water bill.
    • Do not wash laundry in discolored water, it will discolor light clothes. If your water becomes discolored during a laundry in cycle, keep the laundry damp until the water clears. Rewash the clothes, DO NOT USE CHLORINE BEACH.
  • Why is my water pressure low?

    Most often low pressure is a problem with the private plumbing and not something Central Arkansas Water can remedy. Things like galvanized piping, faulty pressure regulators, and stopped up faucet screens can cause low pressure. At the customer’s request Central Arkansas Water will perform a pressure and flow test at the meter to confirm there is adequate water to and through the meter. A comparison test will be done at an outside faucet if one is accessible at the front of the house. A note will be left reporting the results. The customer need not be home at the time of the test.

  • The pressure in my house is too high. Can Central Arkansas Water turn the pressure down at my house?

    To ensure that water pressure is sufficient to all our customers, it is necessary for Central Arkansas Water to maintain a higher pressure in the water mains than is recommended for your plumbing. Refer to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) Plumbing Codes (Arkansas Plumbing Law) for approved ways to regulate the water pressure after it leaves the water meter. The water meter does not regulate the pressure in any way.

  • I need to find my house line and my pressure regulator. Can Central Arkansas Water locate them for me?

    Central Arkansas Water does not have any records on how your plumbing lines are run, where your shutoff valve is or where your pressure regulator might be.

  • If the leak is across the street or the neighbor across the street ordered a new meter, why are you digging in my yard?

    Water is delivered to your neighborhood by a water main system. Generally a street will have only one main running down it. To get the water to the customers on the opposite side of the street Central Arkansas Water will run a SERVICE underground from one side of the street to the other. The main is probably on your side of the street and we have to dig in your yard to tap into the main for the service line.

  • Will Central Arkansas Water facilities leaks cause my bill to be high?

    Leaks on mains, services, valves, and fire hydrants will not affect your bill. Some meter leaks on the outlet side of the meter can have an affect on your consumption and if that is the case you will be advised so you can contact Customer Service for an adjustment

  • What are Central Arkansas Water's areas of responsibility?

    Central Arkansas Water maintains the public mains, valves, fire hydrants, services, valve boxes, meter boxes and water meters in our system. We also maintain approximately 1 – 2′ of pipe on the outlet side of the meter. This is referred to as a ‘tailpiece’. Any leaks at the connection to the “tailpiece” and on up to and into the structure is considered plumbing and is not maintained by Central Arkansas Water. Some commercial properties have “Private Facilities” and those are NOT maintained by Central Arkansas Water. Contact Central Arkansas Water if you are not sure if your facilities are maintained by Central Arkansas Water.

  • My water meter is hard to turn off and on. Can you fix it so I can turn it off and on easily?

    The valve on the water meter is for use by Central Arkansas Water personnel. If we inspect the meter and find the shutoff valve operates to our satisfaction it will be left as is. The Arkansas Health Department Plumbing Code requires the customer to have a shutoff valve outside the meter box that will shut off the water to the entire structure in case of an emergency. It is a good idea to locate your shutoff valve, be sure it is in good operating condition and mark it so it is easily operated in case of an emergency.

  • You tore up my yard working on the water lines. What are you going to do about it?

    When it is necessary to excavate on your property Central Arkansas Water will make every effort to return the site to the condition we found it. Depending on the time of year this can take several weeks if sod and plant material is not available at the time of the initial excavation.

  • There is nothing wrong with my water meter. Why did you suddenly come out and change it?

    Meters, like other equipment, age with time. We change out meters to ensure accurate use of the meter.

  • I am going to landscape my yard and change the grade. How do I get the meter box and/or valve box adjusted to the new grade?

    As soon as the new grade is established call Central Arkansas Water’s Distribution Dispatch 501-377-1239 and they will send someone to adjust the boxes. Be sure to give Central Arkansas Water a few days notice because it is not always possible to respond to such requests immediately.

  • There are colored markings all over my yard and in the street. What's going on?

    Arkansas state law requires anyone making an excavation to notify owners of underground utilities of their intent to dig in a specific location. The white lines are the area of the intended excavation and the colored lines are the location of underground utilities. You may want to visit the Arkansas One Call Home Page for more details.

  • There was a main break and my water was off. Do I need to boil my water now?

    It is not always necessary to issue a Boil Order every time the water is turned off. There are several factors that are considered before a Boil Order is issued. If it is determined a “Boil Order’ is required you will be notified either by a door hanger or signs posted in the affected area. Additionally the media will be notified for broadcast. FAQ’s-BOIL WATER – ADH-DOE

  • I have questions about doing my own plumbing or I want to check out what my plumber is telling me. Can Central Arkansas Water answer my plumbing questions?

    Central Arkansas Water personnel are not plumbers and are not qualified to answer plumbing questions. You may find it helpful to visit the Arkansas Department of Health site and browse the “Plumbing Law” section, Division of Protective Health Codes Services Page.

  • Why did you turn off the water in my neighborhood without telling us?

    Keeping our customers informed is a priority with Central Arkansas Water. If Central Arkansas Water has a planned project that requires the water to be off, every effort will be made to notify our customers prior to the shutdown.

    However, many times there are spontaneous breaks or breaks caused by contractors hitting the water lines. In those emergency situations we will respond as rapidly as possible to get the water shut off, make repairs and get the water back on. Even in an emergency we will make every effort to keep our customers informed.

  • Central Arkansas Water did an investigation and said the problem appears to be on my lines. Will you tell me who to call and what they need to do to fix the problem?

    Because Central Arkansas Water employees are not plumbers, we do not specifically identify plumbing problems or answer specific plumbing questions. To get the problem repaired the Arkansas Plumbing Code allows a property owner to make repairs on his own plumbing lines. If you are not the property owner and/or do no feel you can make repairs, we recommend you check the Yellow Pages for a licensed plumber for advice and assistance.

Cross-Connection Control/Backflow Prevention

  • What is Backflow?

    Normally water flows from the distribution system through the customer’s meter and into the facility. Backflow is the reverse of flow of water from its normal direction back into the distribution system. This occurs when a cross-connection exists.

  • What causes the Backflow?

    Backflow may occur when there is a loss of system pressure or the customer’s water pressure increases above that of Central Arkansas Water’s distribution system.

    Two types of backflow are BACKSIPHONAGE and BACKPRESSURE.

    • BACKSIPHONAGE occurs when low or negative pressure on the supply side of the system causes the reversal of the normal flow of water. It may be caused on the supply side of the system when there is a break on a water main, increased water usage during fire fighting, or when a motorist hits a fire hydrant and causes damage.
    • BACKPRESSURE occurs when the water pressure within the customer’s plumbing system exceeds the pressure of the water utility’s distribution system. Backpressure may be caused by differences in elevation, booster pumping, or a chemical injection system.
  • What is a Cross-Connection?

    A cross-connection is a DIRECT, INDIRECT, or a POTENTIAL connection between Central Arkansas Water’s distribution system and another system of questionable quality. For example, the most common cross-connection is a common garden hose. If the garden hose happens to be connected to chemical applicator, at the same time there is a reduction in system pressure, water can be sucked back through the hose and into the public water mains.

  • What is the primary health risk?

    The primary hazard associated with cross-connections is contaminated water being drawn back into the public water system. If consumed, the contaminated water can cause serious illness.

  • How common is a Backflow occurrence?

    The Arkansas Department of Health has documented numerous cases of backflow on public water systems within the state and across the country. Backflow incidents are not always documented; therefore, it is unknown just how often incidents occur.

  • What can be done to protect our public water system from Cross-Connections?

    In 1995, the Arkansas Department of Health amended Act 96 of 1913 (Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Public Water Systems) and mandated that all public water utilities institute a Cross-Connection Control Program. The intent of the program is to locate, identify, and eliminate, or protect against, all potential cross-connections. Customers found to have a cross-connection or a potential cross-connection must be isolated from the public water system. Central Arkansas Water requires the installation of a Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZA) on all water services where a potential cross-connection may exist. RPZAs, unlike older non-testable devices such as swing check valves, dual check valves, and atmospheric vacuum breakers, are testable in place to assure proper operation.

  • What type of device is needed for my level of hazard?

    Central Arkansas Water requires the installation of an RPZA on the water service of all facilities that pose a potential hazard to the public water supply.

    State regulations also require the protection of the public water system from the potential of backflow from Fire Sprinkler Systems. The installation of a Double Detector Check Valve Assembly (DDCVA) is adequate unless the Fire Sprinkler System has additives or a secondary water source is present. In this situation, we require the installation of an RPZA.

    Underground Irrigation Systems pose a high health hazard and also require the installation of an RPZAs.

  • How does Central Arkansas Water determine the need for devices?

    All commercial and industrial customers within the Central Arkansas Water service area periodically will receive a survey questionnaire in the mail. We ask that you complete and return the Survey Form to us. Central Arkansas Water then will determine whether state regulations require the installation of an assembly. In some cases, it may be necessary for Central Arkansas Water personnel to perform an on-site inspection. If the survey requires an on-site inspection, a service charge is applicable.

  • What facilities typically have hazards that require an RPZA Assembly?
    • Air Conditioning Cooling Towers
    • Apartments / Condominiums
    • Auto Repair, Paint & Body Shops
    • Beauty & Barbers Salons
    • Car & Truck Wash Facilities
    • Commercial Laundries
    • Facilities with Swimming Pools
    • Farms & Agricultural Operations
    • Film Processing Laboratories
    • Food Processing
    • Funeral Homes
    • Health Clubs & Spas
    • Industrial & Manufacturing
    • Landfills & Dumps
    • Lawn Irrigation Systems
    • Metal Plating Plants
    • Medical Facilities
    • Multi-Tenant Facilities
    • Recycling Facilities
    • Restricted Facilities
    • Restaurants & Clubs
    • Schools
    • Sewer Plants
    • Sites with Chemicals
    • Tattoo & Piercing
    • Testing Laboratories
    • Veterinarian & Kennels
    • Zoos & Animal Shelters
  • What are the installation requirements?

    The Arkansas State Plumbing Code (ASPC) mandates that only licensed plumbers may install assemblies. If the assembly is on a Fire Protection System, then only personnel licensed by the State of Arkansas and holding a Registered Mechanical Engineer license or employed by a company licensed by the Fire Protection Licensing Board may install assemblies. The vent of the relief valve on the RPZA shall be between 12″ and 30″ above ground. Horizontal clearance shall be 30″ between the assembly and an adjacent wall, 12″ on the opposite side, 8″ at each end, 6″ above the highest point, and 12″ underneath the assembly. Assemblies 3″ or larger in diameter shall have adequate support and all installations must have a strainer and blow-off. An assembly cannot be mounted in a vertical position unless it specifically designed for this orientation.

  • Where must I locate the RPZA Assembly?

    RPZA’s must be installed above ground on the customer’s side of the meter and before the first point of use. If the installation is inside a building, it must be in a location providing adequate drainage for discharge.

  • How do I protect my Assembly in freezing weather?

    Central Arkansas Water recommends that if the assembly is to be in service year around, an enclosure be provided to prevent it freezing. Enclosures also may discourage vandalism and theft. As of 2003 the Arkansas State Plumbing Code (607.14.1) requires outdoor enclosures for backflow devices comply with ASSE 1060.

  • What are the requirements for testing the Assembly?

    The ADH mandates the testing of assemblies within 10 days of installation and annually thereafter.

  • Who has authorization to test?

    Only personnel with Assembly Tester Technician certification from the ADH may test backflow assemblies in the Central Arkansas Water service area. Only personnel with a valid license from the Arkansas Fire Protection Licensing Board and the AHD may test assemblies on Fire Protection Systems. A listing of Certified Assembly Tester Technicians may be found in the Yellow Pages under “Backflow Prevention Devices & Services,” “Sprinklers – Lawn and Garden,” and the plumbing section. The following web sites also provide listings of testers:

  • Who is responsible for the cost of installation, testing and maintenance?

    Under the Arkansas State Plumbing Code, the customer is responsible for all costs associated with the installation, testing, and maintenance of backflow assemblies on their premises.

Source and Treatment

  • At times my water smells like bleach. Why?

    Chlorine is added to the water for disinfection. It kills disease-causing microorganisms called pathogens. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that a chlorine residual be maintained throughout the entire distribution system. To accomplish this, sufficient amounts of chlorine must be added at the treatment plants and at booster chlorination sites located in certain areas of the distribution system.

  • There are small white particles clogging the aerator on my faucet. What are they?

    The white particles are possibly pieces of the dip tube from your hot water heater. Several manufacturers of hot water heaters used polypropylene dip tube between 1993 and 1996. These dip tubes have a tendency to fail and break up. If you run out of hot water quickly, this is a sign your dip tube has failed. Another test is to clean the aerator and then run only cold water. If the particles do not appear, run your hot water and see if the particles appear. If so, this is a sure sign they are coming from your hot water heater. If your dip tube has failed, you need to either replace the dip tube or your hot water heater. It is a good idea to flush your hot water heater annually.

  • Does Central Arkansas Water add fluoride to the water?

    Yes, to the level of 0.8 mg/L as recommended by the Arkansas Department of Health. Fluoride in drinking water has been shown to decrease the incidence of tooth decay. USEPA has established an upper allowable limit of 4.0 mg/L for fluoride.

  • What is the hardness of the water?

    The hardness of the water provided by Central Arkansas Water is between 1.0-1.7 grains/gallon or 17-29 mg/L. This is considered a “soft” water.

  • What are coliforms and are they harmful?

    Coliforms are generally harmless bacteria that are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. The presence of coliforms indicate that the water may be unsafe to drink because pathogenic bacteria are also found in the intestines of animals and humans. This is why coliforms are called indicator organisms. The presence of coliforms in a water sample indicates that pathogenic bacteria may also be present.

  • Is drinking water completely free of microorganisms?

    No. Drinking water is disinfected to kill all the pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms. Most microbes are harmless.

  • Does water from Central Arkansas Water meet all federal and state standards?

    Yes. Central Arkansas Water actively works to meet and maintain standards of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and the State of Arkansas’ Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Public Water Systems.

  • Who do I call if I have a water quality problem?

    Call the Central Arkansas Water laboratory at 501-223-1574 with all water quality problems except discolored water. Laboratory personnel will help you investigate the problem. If you are experiencing discolored water, call the Distribution Department’s dispatch center at 501-223-1550.

  • How is my water treated?

    Central Arkansas Water uses conventional treatment at both its water treatment plants. The treatment processes include coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection. Raw water from Lake Winona and Lake Maumelle flows to the Ozark Point Treatment Plant and the Jack H. Wilson Treatment Plant.

    The water first enters the treatment plants at flash mixing chambers, where the coagulant aluminum sulfate (alum) is added for particle removal, and lime is added for pH adjustment. Activated carbon is added seasonally for taste and odor control. Water then flows to the flocculation basins where the water and chemicals are gently mixed to form “floc”, which consist of agglomerations of suspended particles such as silt, bacteria, and algae. The water then flows into sedimentation basins where most of the “floc” settles out and is removed from the water. The water then flows downward through filters of sand and anthracite where any remaining “floc” particles are removed. Before and after filtration, chlorine is added for disinfection.

    Finally, fluoride is added for the prevention of cavities in children’s teeth, phosphate for minimizing corrosion in the distribution system piping, and lime for final adjustment of the water pH.

  • How often is the water tested?

    For Central Arkansas Water, monitoring and testing of the water begins at the raw water source and, for some potential contaminants, continues to the tap. Our laboratory and treatment personnel conduct approximately 155,000 water quality test every year at the various stages of water production, treatment, and delivery-an average of 425 tests per day.

    In addition, the ADH performs approximately 600 water quality analyses on samples collected from our raw water sources, Lake Maumelle and Lake Winona; our treatment facilities, the Jack H. Wilson Treatment Plant and the Ozark Point Treatment Plant; and our distribution system of more than 2,200 miles of water mains.

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