Protecting Lake Maumelle | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 12, 2006

Protecting Lake Maumelle

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2006 at 8:51 AM

Just in is a report from Central Arkansas Water's outside consultants, Tetra Tech, for management of development in the Lake Maumelle watershed.

We've encouraged Central Arkansas Water to put the report on-line along with existing general background so all can read it. It's a technical document, not immediately clear to our naked eye and we're seeking more guidance. It doesn't make specific recommendations, but outlines different management options for different parts of the watershed, depending on each part's impact on drinking water quality. The strongest management limits would, of course, be on the acreage nearest the water intake at the eastern end of the lake. Here, Tetra Tech outlines several possible management scenarios, none of which appears to totally rule out all development on that acreage, as has been utility management's preference in the past. This is where Deltic Timber has acreage it wants to develop into high-end homesites. That land was the motivation of Deltic's efforts to pass legislation to limit the water utility's ability to control development in the watershed.

A "non-engineering/land conservation scenario" in the critical area would require 92 percent of the land to be undeveloped and 20-acre minimum lot sizes. (This would virtually rule out development on Deltic's 700 acres, doing the simple math.)

A "performance standards/engineering" would require only 70 percent of the land to be retained in undeveloped state, but require "best management practices," such as ponds to catch runoff, on the rest. The so-called BMP approach would be allowed only after some pilot projects on the technique had been tested outside of this critical part of the watershed. (Simple math on this scenarior indicates Deltic would be limited to develop -- in houses and landscaping and streets and driveways -- only about 210 acres of its 700. Since Deltic had been talking about 170 houses, this scenario would seem to reduce the financial attractiveness of development there, even if it were possible at all after the expensive "best management practices" were put in place.)

These are only broad recommendations. A task force representing the utility and land owners and others will make decisions. There likely will be controversy over other parts of the watershed report , because it seems to lean toward minimum lot sizes, requirements of  paved rather than gravel roads and other steps that could limit intensity of development and thus reduce profit protential in other parts of the watershed. These will be the sorts of policy matters the lake task force will consider.

We sought a comment from Deltic. A spokesman said he had not seen the report and would need to study it over the weekend before commenting.

The report will be discussed at a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Arkansas Arts Center. There will be a series of public meetings on it before a vote in June.

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