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Benton Utilities is closing it’s doors to the public, effective today, in response to COVID-19 and in order to keep employees safe while still providing electric, water and wastewater services.

“To help keep this focus, we are implementing several proactive measures, including closing our facilities to the public,” according to a statement. “Beginning Friday, March 20, all facilities will be closed to customers until further notice. These are unprecedented steps, but the evolving situation demands we respond proactively to protect our community and our critical facilities.”

BU will continue to be available via phone and the drive through will remain open. Payments can be made through the drive through and payment dropbox. Online payment options are also available.

“Powering this community is what we do,” the company said. “You rely on us for reliable electric, water and wastewater services. With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we want to assure you we are doing everything necessary to continue providing the vital services our community depends on every day.”

The company also thanked the community for its patience and support during this time.

“Our leadership team is in constant contact with elected, health and industry officials while closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 situation,” the statement said. “We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available and/or needs arise.”

The BU customer care team can be reached at 501-776-5923. Information can also be found online at

Also this week, BU issued a warning to customers regarding the issue of flushing "flushable wipes."

"Residents are encouraged to disinfect their homes in order to help stem the tide of infections spreading. One of the methods listed as effective in helping kill the virus is the use of disinfecting wipes. While these wipes are proven to be an easy method for prevention, flushing them into the wastewater conveyance system can present an increased probability of harm and clogs to the very system we all depend upon," according to a statement from the company.

“Grease and wipes are the biggest reason for sewer blockage," said Nathan Schultz, manager of the Waste Water Conveyance Department Wipes making it into our lift station pumps can cause them to clog and burn up. This past weekend, we had to pull some pumps and actually repair the discharge because it was packed full of wipes.”

David Vondran, general manager of Benton Utilities, is asking customers to refrain from flushing disinfecting wipes, paper towels and other tissues used for cleaning.

“The most effective method for disposal of these types of products is to put them into the garbage," he said. "Our employees work hard each and every day to make sure that electricity, water and waste water processes are the least of our customer’s concerns. We appreciate their patronage. We understand that these are uncertain times for everyone.”

According to Shultz, the system is designed for used water, human waste and toilet paper only. Other items can cause harm to the pipes and the system as a whole. A list of things to do and don’t do is a handy reminder of how to prevent problems before they occur.

DO: Collect grease in a container and dispose of it in the trash.

DO: Place food scraps in the garbage for disposal with solid waste.

DO: Place waste basket in the bathroom to dispose of solid waste. (Disposable diaper, personal hygiene products and any kind of wipes, no matter if the label says flushable, do not belong in the sewer system)

DO: Use a backflow prevention devise (BPD) as needed.

DON’T: Pour grease, fats, and oils from cooking down the drain.

DON’T: Use the sewer to dispose of food scraps.

DON’T: Use the toilet as a wastebasket for garbage and chemicals.

DON’T: Plant trees with shallow, spreading root system near your sewer lateral. Tree roots seek water sources, such as cracked sewer lines. Once the roots have penetrated the line through cracks, the roots can create a dense mat and trap material.

Additional information regarding preventable cause of wastewater backups can be found at the Benton Utilities website at www.bentonutilities.com/wastewater.

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