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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Water quality report released; nothing new

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 9:51 AM

The U.S. Geological Survey has released its Lake Maumelle watershed modeling report, which says, as expected, that "only slight changes in the modeled water quality" of the lake would result from the three scenarios it studied: conversion of the watershed to forest (little effect on the water quality); converting the watershed to "low-intensity urban land use," which would affect the streams feeding the lake from the north (which would increase fecal coliform and other nutrients into the lake); and clear-cutting part of the land (also little effect on the water quality).

The report addresses the effect on the lake of those three scenarios only, and only over a period of 7 years, based on conditions at the lake in 2004. It doesn't not address long-term affects, like those of permanent residential areas — which is exactly what the Pulaski Quorum Court needs to consider in its deliberations on land use around the lake:

“The amount of nutrients, for example, going into the lake is quite small, so if you increase that by 10 or 20 percent as a result of land use changes you’ve still got a relatively small amount of nutrients going into the reservoir,” said W. Reed Green, coauthor of the report. “However, the magnitude of the water-quality changes simulated by the land-use change scenarios over the 7-year period of 2004—2010 are not necessarily indicative of the changes that could be expected to occur with similar land-use changes persisting over a 20-, 30-, or 40- year period.”

This is, of course, what everyone has known for nearly a year, since the U.S.G.S. informed the Quorum Court in a letter last January that the “low intensity urban” scenario

"does not precisely specify housing density, road density, or other land management practices. These limitations make it difficult to determine the effects of a specific housing density on the water quality of Lake Maumelle. ... This report will not provide a level of detail that would enable policy makers to determine zoning ordinances. It has never been the purpose of this study to simulate the effects of specific land use changes, nor to predict the result of these changes in the future." (Times emphasis.)

So why the stall by the JPs to wait for this report, one that was expected in spring? Answer: To give the Koch-assisted developers who want to earn big dough at the expense of the taxpayers who must keep Little Rock's water supply clean, Deltic Timber and their pals in the Farm Bureau more time to sway the JPs to leave the lake to them.

Find a summary and link to the report here.

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