State official challenges County Fair water supply

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

With less than a month before the Carroll County Fair gets under way, a state health department official arrived on the scene to say the well at the fairgrounds does not meet state requirements for public use.

The fair has been in operation for more than 80 years, the last 12 or more at the current facility that utilizes water from the well that "has never had a bad sample," according Will Schell, a Fair Board member who says he's submitted samples annually.

Schell, along with State Rep. Phil Jackson and members of the Carroll County Fair Board met with state and county health department officials at the fairgrounds on Thursday to discuss the situation and seek solutions.

"It's a low blow to us," said Tommy Anderson, president of the Fair Board. "We have a fair to put on and we don't know how we'll do it without water."

Jimmy Warren, a Fair Board member, said he spoke with an official with the Environmental Division of the state health department who reportedly said the well could be approved on a temporary basis on the condition that the water not be consumed by humans or used for food preparation unless boiled for five minutes."That's the last I heard from Little Rock," said Warren.

According to Arkansas Health Department representative Jim Barlow who traveled from Little Rock, the well is considered a "residential" well and does not meet state requirements for public use.

"It was drilled as a residential well and it will be tough to make it meet state standards," he explained.

He said residential homes that later open as food serving businesses face the same problem.

Barlow suggested either drilling a new well, installing a complicated surface water treatment system, or connecting to city water, a solution that would likely require annexation and time, and a solution Barlow said the state would favor.

He also suggested that the Fair Board might qualify for "semi-public" designation, which would put compliance in the hands of county health officials, "in a manageable arena," he said, if the facility is used 60 days or less each year. However, no one could say if roping and riding qualified as a usage day.

"We're not fighting this," Anderson responded. "We're fighting time."

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