Kensett officials have accepted a $1,600 fine from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality for a levy break they say was caused by “varmints.”

The Kensett City Council approved a resolution last week on the fine, which was originally $5,600 for a June violation.

According to the eight-page consent administrative order from ADEQ regarding the fine, the city has 20 calendar days after accepting it to return it.

“I think pretty much everybody is aware that back in June we had a levy break on a wastewater pump,” Kensett Water and Sewer Superintendent Steve Brown. “The varmints tore a hole through, so I called ADEQ and did all the reporting and everything. Had to get an engineer and the engineer signed off and everything. He done the levy inspection, done everything he was supposed to do.

“They are fining us for that. They fined us $5,600 and they suspended $4,000 so we have to pay $1,600 and I have to jump through hoops for the next year.”

Councilman Don Fuller asked about repairing the levy. “Now, what are you going to have to do? Dig it out and rebuild the levy back?”

Brown answered that it already has been rebuilt. “When they [animals] break it, we go in and dig it out. We put contact soil in it. We put gravel in it. We put fence along … .”

Fuller asked Brown if he keeps the approach to the levy on either side “good and clean,” because he said that deters the animals. “You keep it mowed regularly, right?“

Brown said, “Yeah, but again, it’s the holes that you can’t see. They don’t understand that.”

Fuller responded, “The cleaner you’ll keep it, the less you will have of them.”

Brown agreed and said he had the levy cleaned off in the summer when the animals made the hole.

Fuller said the animals “are grazing creatures, you know; they eat these water grasses.”

Brown responded, “I don’t know what to tell you. I have been dealing with [Arkansas] Game and Fish. All we can do is try to chase them out. If you went down there and put Riff Raff all over that, they would just go blow it.”

Fuller suggested that somewhere in the holding pond, Brown should put a level board with some numbers on it where officials could drive be and see if the level is dropping. Brown said he has one, and Fuller asked, “You didn’t notice it [the level] dropping?”

“That ain’t the way it works,” Brown said. “I know what you’re saying but you’re going about it in the wrong way. The thing is, it [the level] will be good and three hours later, it’s gone. When it goes, it’s gone. I caught it when it was draining the first time and tried to stop it. We threw liter boxes and everything and it was like Volkswagens going through there.”

Fulller said he wondered if there was anything that could be sprayed to help deter the animals.

Brown said he did quite a bit of research the last few months. “We can plant lemongrass and that kind of stuff and they say that that deters them.” He said the animals don’t like the smell of lemongrass.

Fuller said, “I guess they live in that levy and raise their little ones in there and then finally they get to tearing it up so bad.”

Brown said that he didn’t know “what the answer is” to preventing the damage, but “we’re just going to have to try to do better. I don’t know what the answer is.”

Fuller said it’s a question of manpower. “You’ve got to go run your traps regularly. You’ve got to try to outsmart them. They will peg you and know that you’ve been there and they will do something else.”

Brown said “some beavers” had been caught that day, as well as an otter.

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