The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Beaver Lake Watershed Report
Watershed Report Raises Concerns
By Scott Branyan
Commentary - It's been a hard year to predict how the rivers and lakes would treat us this summer as anglers and boaters. Perhaps the greater question, however, is how are we treating the resource?
What does the future hold for Beaver Lake? Readers can get a glimpse of the future by checking out Beaver Water District's recent 2008 Beaver Lake Watershed Report.
The quality of our area's No. 1 water resource faces threats from population growth and development over the next couple of decades. According to the report, more user demand, erosion and sedimentation from storm runoff stemming from land development, waste water and non-point source pollution has the potential to degrade water quality over the next 20 years.
\The Beaver Water District has done the area a service by bringing these concerns to our attention. The report gives a history of Beaver Lake development and discusses its watershed characteristics. The report explores its use as a water, hydropower, flood control and recreational resource, and lists impairments.
However, it also touts water quality management programs. There is a helpful list of area organizations that are working to keep water quality high.
A lot of useful data is found in the report. Characteristics of the area's geology and soils, the impact of drought and flood, population density and land use are all explained.
There is a striking land-use chart which shows 71 percent of the land around Beaver Lake is forested and 22 percent is used for agriculture. As more development occurs and land use changes, erosion, sedimentation problems and threats to water quality can be expected to increase.
According to the report, some of the headwater areas around the lake are already facing threats to water quality from excessive nutrients, chlorides, sulfates, and low dissolved oxygen levels.
Several groups have formed stream teams and are monitoring water quality in these headwater streams. Working with state agencies, the groups contribute important data and record changes in water quality.
As anglers, we can and should become involved in these issues. We have a responsibility to care for and protect our resources and give back to them. They give us untold enjoyment.
There will always be those with no conscience when it comes to polluting the land, but responsible individuals know the importance of preserving and protecting resources.
It doesn't take a prophet to foresee the future of the resource if we fail to work together and take steps now to maintain a high quality of life in Northwest Arkansas.
We are blessed with an abundant clean water supply and recreational resource to meet our needs. Let's all continue to work to keep it this way.
Read the Beaver Water District's watershed report at www.bwdh2o.org