Attorney Wants Answers from Sheridan Officials about Water Contamination
Independent soil and water tests show possible environmental violations
Ginger Roberts owns a food truck that sits on her property on Highway 270 in Sheridan.
Her next-door neighbor is Paw Springs Resort, a pet grooming facility. Since the summer, the two neighbors have battled each other – and city officials – regarding zoning issues.
The Sheridan City Council addressed the zoning dispute between the two commercial property owners in its September monthly meeting. You can listen to that audio here:
Jeremy and Amanda McNair are the officers of Paw Springs Resort, LLC, according to documents filed at the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.
McNair placed a French drain on Roberts’ property, Sheridan City Attorney Ed Koon told the city council in September. Koon also said in the same meeting the Paw Springs’ owners built their facility two feet from Roberts’ property line and that a city ordinance requires 25 feet from the property line for commercial buildings.
Koon, in the September meeting, said that Paw Springs’ owners placed a 100-foot French drain on Roberts’ property without permission.
Under the Arkansas Freedom on Information Act, South Arkansas Reckoning obtained from the city of Sheridan on Wednesday an independent environmental analysis from ATOKA, Inc., based in Little Rock, which provides “professional engineering and environmental consulting services.
Roberts hired the Little Rock consulting firm to analyze the soil and water around her property.
The 16-page report and attachments were signed by Joe D. Henry, CIE, Microbiologist.
The report’s first page states: “The complaint arose from the discovery that Paw Springs Resort (PSR) has / is discharging animal fecal waste from the operation into a drainage conduit (perforated pipe) buried along the property line and which empties (daylights) behind the PSR.”
On Page 2 the report states that “coliform bacteria were likewise present in the water samples at levels consistent with fecal contamination. The background total coliform count was 55/100 ml compared to the drainage pipe samples of 3,100 and 32,300 from Site 1 and Site 2 respectively. The comparison suggested that fecal material is present in the drainage pipe that traverses the Roberts property and then empties behind the PSR property.”
Henry wrote: “Interestingly, the water emerging from the drainage pipe flows away from the property in a grade that is a 1-3% slope toward the stream behind the property. The stream is named Town Branch and is situated <200 feet behind the property. The stream follows a path southeast parallel with West Center Street for ~0.5 miles where it remains on a steady SE course until it connects with Big Creek which eventually connects with Hubbard Creek further south, and ultimately to the Saline River.” [Note: Henry said that Hubbard Creek was “inadvertently substituted” for Hurricane Creek in the original report. The correct creek is Hurricane Creek.]
“The current condition of Town Branch Creek is unknown,” the report states. “Because of the sensitivity and nature of the discharge from PSR, it is likely the discharge, which contains E.coli bacteria, may be in violation of the state’s regulatory category for Federal and Scenic Waters (NSW). That criteria is 298 E.coli/100 ml of water. We would suggest this scenario should be investigated.”
E.coli bacteria is able to survive in water 4-12 weeks, according to the report.
Roberts referred South Arkansas Reckoning to her attorney, Jerry Larkowski, for comment. He wrote in an email:
“Ginger bought this land on Hwy 270 to develop it, and she has been using it for her food truck. She has applied for all licenses and permits necessary to follow the law. Her neighbor is charged with criminal trespass for not following the law. We already knew he had run a PVC drain through her property. We now know he's using it to dispose of waste in an unlawful manner. All Ginger has ever asked of the local authorities is to hold others to following the law just as she and so many other people of Sheridan do every day.
Ginger paid $2700.00 out of her own pocket for soil testing to make sure that the neighbor's offensive practices weren't damaging her land, nor exposing to risk: herself, her employees, her customers, nor anyone else in the path of the area water drainage. She shared that report with the mayor via city email so that the city could look into it and take the steps necessary to assure it does not expose anyone to any health or environmental risks. We have been waiting a week for some feedback from the city as to what their investigation is revealing, and so far we have not heard so much as a ‘thanks for sharing this with us’. Sheridan water that is consumed should be safe, and that any water that is used within Sheridan's jurisdiction and becomes waste should be disposed of safely.
On November 17, 1973, President Nixon said to the Associated Press: ‘...the American people need to know their President is not a crook. I am not a crook....’ Fifty years later to the day, we believe the people of Sheridan need to know that the area water isn't unsafe. We want the city to tell us ‘Our area water is not unsafe.’ And be telling us so timely and truthfully.”
South Arkansas Reckoning reached out to Paw Springs Resort for comment and left a voice message. Paw Springs Resort did not return the call. South Arkansas Reckoning also sent an email for comment to Koon and Sheridan Mayor Cain Nattin. Neither have responded.
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Read about our initial FOIA request about this environmental report here: