ADEQ Addresses City of Mansfield Sewer Neglect


Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality staff has listed, and mandated issues to be fixed after neglect concerning the unsatisfactory conditions Mansfield Sewer plant is currently in, and has been for quite some time.

Mansfield Mayor, Larry Austin has been repeatedly questioned from several concerned city council members, and residents over the smell, and current state of the sewer plant at numerous city council meetings over the past year.

The questions centered on smell, which is promptly noticed during the evening hours in and around the city as well as the possibility of sewer leakage into area streams, within city limits of Mansfield.

Although many opinions have been stated regarding potential fines, as well as State involvement, a few city council members, a long with the Mansfield Mayor have yet to act towards doing anything beneficial to correct the known issues.

Now, that ADEQ is involved, you will also notice that they have recommended the cooperation of the Office of Water Quality Enforcement Branch in this matter.

You can read the entire report by clicking the below link, which will open a PDF document issued by the ADEQ. Pictures of visible violations are at the end of the document, with captions as to what was found.

CLICK HERE – ADEQ-report-mansfield-arkansas

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18 Replies to “ADEQ Addresses City of Mansfield Sewer Neglect”

  1. Charlie Little says:

    To quote Claudia, “Why are people turning down a job with better pay in order to work in Hartford where they earn less?” A lot of people may not be aware of this but the workers are very well aware. The treatment of wastewater is a very serious matter that can end in people going to jail for the kind of neglect that this facility has suffered.

    Why, according to the ADEQ report, have testing procedures not been followed as set forth? Why has the sludge not been pressed since 2016? Why is the facility in the shape it’s in?

    Nobody knows how to properly do anything because nobody was trained properly to do anything. The workers are afraid to work in a place they may be blamed for something beyond their control and end up going to jail.

    This facility is not a commonly used design. It’s going to be tough to find anybody who knows how to make it work and are willing and able to train others in the working of it. In all honesty, I understand basic wastewater treatment systems but I can’t tell any of you what conversations took place on the telephone and what buttons were pushed to make what part of the system work. Nothing there happens quickly. Minor adjustments were made over periods of time. I was told to go do this or that and that’s what I did.

  2. Charlie Little says:

    About correcting a bad situation, ok. Let’s forget everything past and look at what we have. Specifically the sludge build-up.

    According to the ADEQ report, the sludge press has not operated since 2016 and there is impending overflow. The circulation/aeration pump is not functioning in the sludge collection basin. It was not functioning when I left in 2013 and for at least 18 months prior, the pump laid broken off, in the bottom of the sludge basin.

    This led to the once aerobic sludge, which the dewatering polymer was designed to dewater, to become septic and the polymer would no longer work. Without the polymer working to separate the water from the sludge, the sludge press will not work, other than to spew black septic sludge mixed with aquatic toxic polymer into the dumpster.

    Without pressing sludge every single work day, it is impossible to maintain a balance in the system. The sludge storage tank receives waste sludge from the bottom of the anaerobic tanks, the first two concrete covered tanks in the system. If it is not pumped off, the treatment tanks get too much sludge build-up which results in decant water containing solids to exit into the creek.

    So in all reality, it is the end of the process which dictates the effectiveness of all previous processes. We have to get the sludge out of the sludge storage tank in order to relieve the plant from its overload.

    When we do that, we absolutely must have a functioning circulation/aeration pump in the sludge storage tank or it will all end up back as it is.

    In my opinion, it may be feasible and economical to re-vamp the old sludge drying beds to have an emergency relief in just such an event as this. We have nowhere to put the sludge. People will remember the smell we used to have when we dumped on the old sand beds. The reason for that smell was this… The old plant sludge was dumped after settling and was already mostly septic at the time it hit the sand. I believe if sludge were sufficiently aerated before dumping onto the beds, the odor would not exist and the new plant could not only handle but would benefit from the filtered water coming back into the system.

    I would also like to recommend we have a redundant shut-off switch installed so that the diversion pumps at the wet well turn off in the event of a re-lift pump failure and an alarm notify officials. This is why we have overflows at the influent station and is completely unnecessary.

    We may also want to look at the feasibility of replacing all the submersible pumps in the plant with airlift pumps. The old plant airlift pump worked flawlessly from the day it started until it went offline with one repair I’m aware of to replace the old rusted air hose connection with a brass connection. These submersible pumps are always going to be failing and wearing out impellers and are a danger to workers in the process of removing and replacing them. If not replaced, we at least should look at a better winch system of getting them in and out before somebody seriously gets hurt.

  3. Charlie Little says:

    Do you really want me to go get the facts? Are you sure?

  4. Claudia says:

    Hartford currently has the best mayor, who only hires qualified people. To remove the past mayor, citizens organized, wrote letters to everyone in town. City council and the current mayor back their city employees and appreciate them. They probably don’t get paid as much as Mansfield city employees, but just think a moment. Why are people turning down a job with better pay in order to work in Hartford where they earn less?
    To Mrs Farmer; most of us are very happy to see that your husband if back. He is very loved and appreciated.

  5. Better Informed says:

    Mr. Little, you obviously do not have your facts straight. The last report by ADEQ while Glen Hurt was mayor couldn’t have been better. Please don’t spread “fake” news. CHECK YOUR FACTS BEFORE YOU SPEW LIES. The former public works director was one of the best people to ever work for this once fine city. You need to leave out any personal vendettas you have and not skew the truth. This is about correcting a bad situation and not about making matters worse.

  6. The Ghost of MHS Past says:

    Charlie, it still doesn’t excuse Austin for not doing anything! He has known about the problem for awhile. He may have inherited it, I agree but he has known about it for almost a year and has done nothing, nada, zilch. The former public works director (I have no idea who that is) may have been useless and a liar, but again a year is more than enough time for the current mayor to do something. He is and has been an arrogant little man that has no regard for anyone but himself. Get rid of him and get a real mayor in place and the town will thrive again. It’sno wonder Mansfield cannot keep any business in town, my gosh Casey’s will be gone before it is built!

  7. Concerned business owner says:

    I feel like it’s a shame that most of the business owners in town live outside the city limits and aren’t able to vote in city elections or have a voice in what happens in town. After all, they are the ones that generate the majority of the tax revenue for the town. I know when you roll into town in the mornings it smells awful. Makes it hard to attract new business or new residents.

  8. Charlie Little says:

    Let me tell you all something I know for a fact. The current mayor may not be the best mayor there ever was but he did in fact inherit the sewer plant in very bad shape and you can all blame the former public works director for knowing full well it was going to crap and not informing the mayor then of things that were happening or putting any funds, quality effort or time into what should have been standard. Instead, you bought new equipment to work on everything else and a nice city lake park and other such useless things while the once organized public works office and shop became a junk hole you could barely walk around in and the sewer plant went to crap. We had a chance from the very start to install a redundant switch system that would shut off the wet well pumps in the event of a re-lift pump failure, at a very reasonable price. Instead, it overflowed seven times in the three years I worked the facility, the spillage was dragged around into the gravel and hidden. I was told to say it only ever happened once when a group of wastewater operators from another city came to visit our plant and noticed a single sludge ball in the gravel and comment that it had overflowed. I sat there while the former public works director looked right in the face of the ADEQ inspector who asked about a redundant system and was told that our police patrolled the area every fifteen minutes at night and called us if the alarm light was flashing. When all this came to a head when I finally had all I could stand , it ended badly and I left the city, only hoping people would finally learn the truth about the former public works director. I should have been going to the mayor myself but was under the impression he was being told when in fact he was not. You should be thanking the current mayor for running him off, come together and figure out a way to fix all this. I looked at the pictures of the plant they took and was ashamed. I could not fix this and it’s going to take a LOT of fixing to make it right. It was a poor design from the start. The office floor drain is four inches lower in elevation than the influent tank at overflow. That fills the office full of sludge every time there’s an overflow. I don’t know how many times it has overflowed since I left in 2103 but from the looks it has been several. If they aren’t pressing sludge every single day and keeping the sludge levels good in the plant, it’s going into the creek every decant. Photo’s confirm this. It makes me sick but it’s not Mayor Austin’s fault. It was broken when he took office. The reason nobody wants to work there is it all falls back on the operator when shtf and nobody in their right mind wants to take blame for it.

  9. Adam Hecox says:

    All around a bad situation. I am not a fan of blaming, but man, you’d figure City Council Members or the Mayor would look into this personally before now since it’s been a noticed “issue” brought up multiple times. You don’t have to be a sewage expert or water expert to pursue finding some way or someone to fix the problem if you’re aware there is a problem or at the very least escalate it to someone above the Mayor or a council member. I myself have not been to very many council meetings due to my work schedule, but I would definitely suggest that anyone who can go to the meetings do so. These individuals are supposed to represent us, the people. I don’t doubt some council members do their job, but ALL (including the Mayor) need to be on the same page for the best interest of our ourselves, our neighbors, & our beloved town.

  10. The Ghost of MHS Past says:

    Have you people in Mansfield not realized that Austin will ruin this town? He tried his best to ruin the school and in reality did. His past actions was a major cause in the school going to hell in a hand basket! You people need to have a special session and have him removed. It will only get worse. Mansfield was a great town when Glen Hurt ran it and has went down everyday after he left. I know every Council member and they are good people, but need to stand up to him. He thinks he is King Crap when in reality he has the “Little Man” syndrome.

  11. Cyndy Farmer says:

    May I ask why there has not been a special meeting called to address this and the boil order on the water tower issue! Bids are already in but no special meeting has been called and this is the icing on the cake. Sonic has shut down because of the boil order, has any one thought about the revenue that they have lossed and the workers their wages!!! I have dealt with the intents of this mayor on a personal basis and it nearly cost my husband his life!!!! Is it not enough yet!!! People say be careful what you say? Excuse me but I pay taxes in this town too. Totally irrelevant where I work or who I’m married to! I live in this city that was a pleasant place to be until …… one mad citizen 😡

  12. Better Informed says:

    City council is NOT letting this happen. Keep in mind, it takes a MAJORITY to take action. Attend the next meeting and find out who’s trying to correct the problem and who’s standing by and allowing this mess to happen.

  13. Rick McDaniel says:

    I am a councilmember it takes 4 members of the council to do anything for or against I have personally been telling citizens of Mansfield what is going on but they refused to attend council meetings and address their concerns the only thing a single Council person can do it resign isthat helping anybody NO because the mayor can appoint someone with the same thinking to take that person’s place, as citizens we need to stand up and voice are opinions at the council meetings, social media is good but until the meeting is cram packed full of citizens nothing will be done it takes 4 council people to do anything that is my opinion and anyone that wishes to can contact me this is Rick McDaniel my phone number 479-461-6733

  14. MHS Alumni says:

    There are lessons to be learned here.

    Austin was fired from the school district.
    He is taking it upon himself to dismantle this town.
    City Council refuses to do anything except watch his tyrade.
    Employees who’ve resigned talk openly about his methods and yet it continues to get worse without any recourse.
    Don’t let me forget, you have a pristine waking trail that never gets used and floods. Should’ve have taken the compatible grant money and used it to fix the sewer, water tower or the streets.

    Listen up, citizens of Mansfield. Your town is dying and the mayor is making an absolute mockery of it. And YOU are letting him do it.

    Former School Board Member

  15. Josh says:

    Sounds like a stinky situation…. 🤣
    Hope the voters are seeing what they’ve allowed

  16. :( says:

    It’s. A shame that this town continues to dwindle away like Hartford. At least Hartford had the balls to remove there mayor. Didn’t he teach or something for the school before being mayor?

  17. Joe says:

    If the City council members don’t do anything about this, and the mayor they need to resign as well. Absolutely an embarrassment to a once thriving small town going straight in the sewer. LITERALLY!

  18. Pete Sake says:

    Why hasnt this guy been remived from office yet. He is killing this town and looks to be on purpose.

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