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Photo Gallery | Guard takes on water support mission in Newton County

~ Fort Chaffee supports community with 120,000 gallons of water


Story & Photos by Lt. Col. Keith Moore

Arkansas National Guard Public Affairs Office

FALLSVILLE, Ark.—Soldiers and equipment from the Arkansas National Guard again have answered the call of an Arkansas community in distress.  This time, the Guard provided water transport services to keep the citizens of this remote area functioning during what is turning out to be among the driest summers on record.


The situation arose late on June 27th when the main well pump for the Nail-Swain Water Association, located about 40 miles north of Clarksville, Ark., burned out.  The pump, located just over 2,100 feet down in the 3,970 foot deep well, supplies water to several thousand area residents.


Local officials quickly contacted their county Emergency Management Coordinator and funneled a request for assistance to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and the governor’s office.  After all the coordination, the Guard dispatched a 5,000 gallon water tanker to be positioned where residents could access it.


“After a couple of days we learned that there were a number of elderly and retired residents that either didn’t know the water was here, or had no way to get down to us,” said Staff Sgt. Brad Broadstock, a member of the Arkansas National Guard’s 217th Maintenance Battalion of the 142nd Fires Brigade.


With this new knowledge the Guardsmen got with local officials and Lynn Spradley, superintendent of the Nail-Swain Water Association, to see if there was a better solution to help get water to residents.  Ironically, a local man volunteered the use of a recently purchased surplus fire engine to pump the water into the water system.  This served two purposes:  First it enabled residents to continue receiving water at their residences, but with a reduced water pressure.  Secondly, it kept water in the system and kept the pipes pressurized.


The Guard’s role then became transporting approximately 25,000 to 30,000 gallons per day from a nearby water system located approximately 12 miles away.  The Guardsmen dumped the water into surface containment bladders while the fire engine pumped it into a mountain top fire hydrant linked to the Nail-Swain Water system.


“The Guard has miraculously managed to keep up with the daily usage rate,” said Spradley.  “On average we run about 31,000 gallons of usage per day on our system.”


Sgt. Thomas Hesson a logistics employee from Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center said, “The local people have been great.  On some of the hottest days they stop by and bring us something cold to drink.  Most of the time they just want to talk and thank us for what we are doing.”


Repair parts and crews arrived from Kansas and Oklahoma on July 9 to fix the well pump.  After two long days the pump was repaired and brought back online in the late afternoon of July 11.  By then, however, the Guard had successfully hauled nearly 120,000 gallons of water to support the people of Newton County in north central Arkansas.


“The Guardsmen have been a Godsend.  The Soldiers worked through some of the hottest days last week, and through the pouring rain the one day we got some,” said Spradley. 


But this is not his first experience working with the Guard to supply water.  In recent years he has called upon the Guard several times, as nearby Deer Water System has several shallow wells which have gone dry several times during the peak of summer.


Broadstock humbly described the mission as a true team effort of how the Guard and communities and residents work together.


“The success of this mission was truly contributed by a team of people.  We just moved the water,” said Broadstock.  “The citizens that volunteered parts and time to keep the pumps moving the water; the fire department that provided the hoses and couplings to make it work; and Mr. Martin who provided the fire truck to pump the water, it was a group effort to bring all the pieces together.”


As Broadstock and Hesson cleaned up the pumping site and prepared to return to Fort Chaffee by mid-day Thursday, July 12, they were satisfied they had taken part in a mission that made a difference in the lives of Newton County residents.


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