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The Arkansas Department of Health has asked the operator of the water system in Earle to surrender his licenses after an investigation found evidence that he submitted false information on testing for lead and copper in the city's water.

Jeff Stone, director of the Health Department's engineering section, made the request of Danny Clark in a letter dated Wednesday after an inquiry into residents' complaints that their signatures had been falsified on records related to sampling that was supposed to have occurred in September.

According to the department's website, water systems are required to collect samples from residents' homes to be tested for lead and copper that could be found in the water because of corrosion in pipes.

During an investigation by the city, seven residents signed notarized statements indicating that their signatures had been falsified on forms related to the sampling, Stone said in the letter.

Stone said he will ask the Board of Health's Drinking Water Advisory and Operator Licensing Committee to revoke Clark's treatment and distribution licenses unless Clark surrenders them within 15 days.

Clark hadn't responded to the letter as of Thursday, Health Department spokesman Meg Mirivel said.

Clark also didn't respond to a phone message left by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the water system's office.

Stone said the investigation into the falsified water samples was not related to a boil order, which was issued Wednesday, that came after two water samples tested positive for bacteria.

The first sample, collected by the water system as part of routine monthly testing in late June, was found to contain E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination, Stone said.

Another sample collected on July 2 was negative for E. coli but positive for total coliform bacteria, he said.

The reason the bacteria was found isn't clear, although it could be from contamination that occurred at the point where the samples were collected, Stone said. He said he hasn't heard of anyone getting sick from drinking the water.

According to the order, water should be boiled briskly for one minute before drinking it or using it for food preparation. Ice cubes made from water that was not boiled should be discarded, the department said.

The order will be lifted once samples taken on two days are free of contamination, Stone said. The first day's sample was collected Wednesday and the second was collected Thursday, he said. He said he hoped to have results from the tests by Monday.

Metro on 07/12/2019

Print Headline: Arkansas Department of Health wants licenses of Earle water chief

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