Friday, September 5, 2008

Advisory group continues planning to protect watershed

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Watershed Group Examines Preservation Options

By Caleb Fort
An adivsory group was briefed Thursday on possible ways to prevent pollution of the Beaver Lake Watershed.

Options discussed included construction, stream and wastewater management, and using chicken waste for energy.

About 20 people attended the Beaver Lake Watershed Policy Advisory Group meeting at the Botanical Garden of The Ozarks.

The group was started by the Northwest Arkansas Council to create a strategy for managing the watershed, which provides drinking water to about 350,000 people.

By targeting urban land activities, stream disturbance, wastewater, and fertilizer, manure and litter, the group might be able to "get the biggest bang for the buck" said Kimberly Brewer, associate director of Tetra Tech.

Tetra Tech is a Pasadena, Calif., environmental engineering and consulting company that will guide the group.

Brewer said there are several ways to reduce the impact developed areas have on the watershed, many of which involve making sure rain water has a chance to soak into the ground instead of running off into streams.

Construction sites can also cause problems, said Barry Tonning, director of applied research for Tetra Tech.

Without controls like silt fences and good grading exposed dirt on construction sites can run off during storms and end up in the lake, Tonning said.

"Sediment is a notorious carrier for nitrogen, phosphorous, herbicides, pesticides -- all kinds of stuff," he said.

Matthew Van Eps, associate director of the Watershed Conservation Resource Center, discussed several options for controlling stream erosion, including bank reinforcement and rerouting the channel.

Brewer talked about existing measures to prevent poultry farms from polluting the water supply. She also talked about turning chicken waste into fuel.

Finally, Tonning presented possibilities for making septic tanks more effective. One option was clustered treatment centers that would treat the waste from several tanks before discharging it into the ground.

Group members were asked to write down their opinions of the different options presented so Tetra Tech will know which ones to research further.

The results of that research will be presented at the group's next meeting, probably in November.

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