What Does the Mayflower Oil Spill Mean For Central Arkansas’ Drinking Water?

Apr 5, 2013

Major pipelines of Arkansas.
Credit Arkansas Geological Commission

Many residents in central Arkansas have been concerned after hearing Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announce there is oil in Lake Conway as a result of the ExxonMobil pipeline rupture in Mayflower.

One of the many questions this raises is, “What does this mean for our drinking water supply?” 

John Tynan is Watershed Protection Manager with Central Arkansas Water, which provides drinking water for about 400,000 people in area.

“We have two sources of [water] supply: Lake Maumelle and Lake Winona. Lake Conway, which is

"The same pipeline that ruptured in the Mayflower area does run through the Lake Maumelle Watershed," notes Tynan.

the site of the Mayflower incident, is not used by Central Arkansas Water for drinking water supply,” says Tynan. 

However, there is an Exxon pipeline that runs for 13 miles through the Lake Maumelle Watershed.

“The same pipeline that ruptured in the Mayflower area does run through the Lake Maumelle Watershed,” notes Tynan. 

Tynan says while there is no direct impact from the oil spill in Mayflower on the water quality at Lake Maumelle, Central Arkansas Water will be requesting Exxon relocate the pipeline outside of the Lake Maumelle Watershed to ensure safe drinking water.

“The only way to completely eliminate the risk is to remove the pipeline out of the watershed. The request hasn’t officially been submitted yet. We have a board meeting coming up next Thursday, [April] 11th, and are waiting until our board has the opportunity to weigh in,” says Tynan.

For now, Tynan says they do have an emergency response plan should a spill occur with the Exxon pipeline.

“And we’re also deploying this month an emergency spill response trailer in the watershed that will be able to quickly deploy should a spill occur,” adds Tynan.