About Our Past
The history of Central Arkansas Water and community water service in the Little Rock-North Little Rock metropolitan area dates back to springs and wells in the early 1800s. A basic system of providing and transporting water to homes and businesses has today become Arkansas’ largest water utility. A utility nationally-known for excellent water quality, exemplary regulatory compliance, outstanding system reliability, affordable rates, exceptional customer service, and strong public involvement.
From the late 1880s to the mid-1930s, a succession of investor-owned utilities served Little Rock and North Little Rock. On the north side of the Arkansas River, the private interests included the Home Water Company, Little Rock Water Works Company, American Water Works & Electric Company, North Little Rock Water Company, and Arkansaw Water Works Company. On the south side of the river, the companies included the former three, plus the Arkansaw Water Works Company.
The Arkansaw Water Works Company owned the Little Rock system from 1910 to 1936, when the City of Little Rock, after securing a federal grant and loan, purchased facilities serving the south side of the river. The North Little Rock Water Company owned the North Little Rock system from 1936 to 1959, when the City of North Little Rock purchased facilities serving its corporate boundaries and its rural customers. Following the acquisitions by the respective cities, separate three-member governing water boards were appointed to oversee operations, planning, and expansions of the municipal utilities.
In the year 2000, “Water for Our Future: Overcoming Regional Paralysis,” a study by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, marked the beginning of a new era in inter-local cooperation and the concept of metropolitan services for the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock. At the time, the two cities had a 64-year-old history as water supplier and customer. The UALR study findings were the impetus for the cities to make a major change in their relationship by moving past geographical differences and corporate interests and looking toward the good of the entire customer base, as well as surrounding areas in Central Arkansas. The result was a unanimous decision by the cities’ governing bodies and water commissions to merge Little Rock Municipal Water Works and the North Little Rock Water Department into Central Arkansas Water. On March 5, 2001, city and water officials signed a historic consolidation agreement. On July 1, 2001, the utilities officially merged human resources and operations.
Central Arkansas Water remains under public ownership. A seven-member Board of Commissioners governs the utility and a chief executive officer oversees day-to-day operations and administration. The utility’s organizational structure includes five departments: Distribution, Engineering, Finance & Customer Service, Information Services, and Source & Treatment.
About Our Present
Today, the major components of the Central Arkansas Water system are two raw water supplies, Lake Winona and Lake Maumelle; a regulating and storage facility, Jackson Reservoir; two treatment facilities, the Jack H. Wilson Water Treatment Plant and Ozark Point Water Treatment Plant; 2,323 miles of pipeline; 22 booster pumping stations; and 23 remote storage facilities. Our service boundaries encompass approximately 360 square miles.
We recently completed more than $20 million in treatment plant improvements. These improvements have enhanced the water treatment process, optimized facility operations, increased our treatment capacity from 124 million gallons per day to 157 million gallons per day, and enhanced pumping capabilities, all without a rate adjustment. We are also planning a $22-million bond issue to fund general water-source protection, distribution, treatment, operational, and building improvements.
About Our Future
A major objective of the utility’s consolidation is securing a future water source for Central Arkansas. CAW is a member of the Mid-Arkansas Water Alliance, which, in collaboration with the Metroplan Council of Local Governments, is leading a regional initiative on the development of a source to meet the region’s needs through the 21st century. Our Director of Regionalism & Future Source serves on the Alliance’s Board of Directors. Metroplan, which serves the four-county region of Pulaski, Saline, Lonoke, and Faulkner, as well as officials of other cities and rural areas, is an integral partner in the effort.
With 27 participating cities and water user groups, we have made application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allocation from Greers Ferry Lake and Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. This formal request follows a study to determine the most feasible future-source alternative(s). Black & Veatch Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, was the engineering consultant on the study project and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (formerly Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission), and Ouachita River Water District were participating, funding partners. In addition, our U.S. congressional delegation is assisting and advising in the effort.
The regional approach represents the potential for water users in the region to meet their needs and minimize the financial burden on individual systems, particularly smaller systems.
Central Arkansas Water strives to be a leader in regulatory compliance, customer service, system integrity, affordability, and fiscal management. Perhaps most indicative of our commitment to customers are multiple Public Water Supply Environmental Excellence Awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, and a 2001 America’s Crown Communities Award. Both awards reflect outstanding operations and maintenance practices and a dedication to quality in all aspects of service to customers.
About Our Commitment
At Central Arkansas Water, we are proud to be the metropolitan water service provider for Greater Little Rock-North Little Rock; a leader on the national level in regulatory compliance, treatment technology, and operational efficiency; and a principal partner in efforts to ensure an adequate supply and quality source of water for the region — now and in the future.