Thursday, July 10, 2008

Advisory group plans to protect watershed

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Beaver Lake Watershed Group Sets Goals
By Caleb Fort
The Morning News
SPRINGDALE - An advisory group tasked with creating a management plan for the Beaver Lake watershed adopted a set of goals at its meeting Thursday.
The goals include maintaining the quality of the drinking supply and restoring streams and lake areas to state environmental standards.
The Beaver Lake Watershed Strategy Policy Advisory Group was created by the Northwest Arkansas Council. The group had their first meeting in May.
Paul Carter, a member of the council, said it is vital for Northwest Arkansas to keep the lake and its watershed from being ruined by pollution or sediment buildup.
"One of our great assets - maybe one of our greatest assets - is Beaver Lake," he said.
Beaver Lake supplies drinking water to about 350,000 people, said Mike Malone, executive director of the council.
The strategy will be created with the guidance of Tetra Tech, an environmental engineering and consulting company based in Pasadena, Calif.
Barry Tonning, director of Applied research for Tetra Tech, said the group will have to consider many things as it creates a management plan.
For example, how land is used in the surrounding area can change the lake, he said. Septic tanks, farm and golf course runoff and new development can all affect the quality of the water, he said.
About 30 people from organizations such as the University of Arkansas, county planning departments, Tyson Foods and the Northwest Arkansas Property Rights Association attended the meeting.
The group's next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 4, where the committee will consider what benchmarks can be used to measure the success of the management plan.
The group will probably meet four or five more times at roughly eight-week intervals, Malone said. He said he is not sure how the plan will be implemented.
"It would be great if some central group came out of this to do it," he said.


Beaver Lake Watershed Management Strategy
• Maintain a long-term, high-quality drinking water supply to meet present needs and continuing growth of the region.
• Restore water quality of impaired stream and lake areas (as listed on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's list of impaired waters).
• Minimize additional costs and regulations for people living and working in the watershed.
Source: Beaver Lake Watershed Strategy Policy Advisory Group

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