Robert Hart, Chief Technical Officer, Central Arkansas Water, reports:
I received a call from Jeff Stone last evening advising that he and ten others in the Engineering Section were furloughed effective today due to the state of Arkansas’ unwillingness to cover EPA’s delay in processing the federal Public Water System Supervision Grant for FY2014 for the Engineering Section. From my time with the ADH, this federal grant was seldom received on time, that is on or before the beginning of the federal fiscal year on October 1, and the ADH and AR Dept of Finance & Administration were always willing to cover the period until the federal grant money was received. That period was usually months long. Jeff stated that EPA in Dallas has assured him that there is no question that the federal grant for 2014 will eventually be received.
I asked Jeff if his and the other positions could not be temporarily funded by the PWSS Fees, which is state money, and he replied that he was told by ADH finance officials that that was not possible based on directives from Governor Beebe. Jeff did not give a list of the Engineering Section staff affected, but did say it includes Lyle Godfrey, Chief of Technical Support in the Engineering Section. Lance Jones, Chief Engineer & Chief of Field Surveillance is currently directing the Engineering Section.
Jeff said that services by the Engineering Section immediately affecting public water systems, such as the collection of chemical samples and the analysis of both chemical and bacteriological samples in the ADH Lab, were not affected but that he could make no predictions for the longer term. In my opinion, other services, such as plan review, will likely be immediately slowed.