Clean water | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Clean water

Posted By on Sun, Dec 10, 2006 at 7:52 AM

In today's e-mail: A copy of a letter from the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods to Central Arkansas Water on the approaching decisions on watershed management for Lake Maumelle. Lest there be any doubt, significant opposition remains to residential development near the water-intake. This iswhere Deltic Timber wants to put high-dollar homes on scrub timber land on which it paid pennies (and pays virtually nothing now in taxes) and which has a greater value today thanks to the view of a lake built for a water supply. Talk of a compromise on this issue is mostly being driven by the Deltic PR machine.

Letter on the jump.


December 9, 2006
Mr. Tony Kendall, Chairman
Central Arkansas Water Board
221 E. Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

Dear Mr. Kendall,

The Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods voted at the December 9 meeting
to endorse the proposed Management Plan to protect our drinking water
supplied by Lake Maumelle by regulating surrounding property in the
watershed. We urge you to press for an immediate state health policy to
prevent any sewage from flowing into the lake or on the ground in the
watershed. This rule-making takes months, so no time should be lost
undertaking this.

Coalition delegates also voted to oppose any development in the one percent
of the watershed known as Critical Area A, the steep slopes above the intake
pipe at the lake’s eastern end. The risk to our drinking water safety is too
great to allow any earth moving, construction or residency in that small
area. Buy it and keep us all safe. We recognize that science and engineering
can, indeed, provide safety margins for houses that might be built there.
Science enables us to send astronauts to a space station, where sewage is
distilled into pure drinking water - at great cost.

However, we have seen human error, neglect and greed fail those standards,
time and again. We recall the 110 Milwaukee deaths from cryptosporidium in
the drinking water in 1993. We remember the Challenger space shuttle
disaster. We think about the pesticide plant whose neglected safety
standards resulted in the deaths at Bhopal, India. In Little Rock today, we
have government regulation over development and new construction, but still
runoff floods low-lying neighbors with silt, and chokes streams flowing from
various sites. City officials are resolving a violation of law that poisoned
slopes and trees that kept drivers from seeing a hotel on I-430, at this

We do urge close scrutiny of the Management Plan votes by Policy Council
members regarding development options. We saw strong opposition to any
development in Critical Area A from the beginning, and that never wavered.
Be sure that development options, such as performance standards, were given
large margins of approval because they were presented in the IF-THEN
question mode: If Area A was to be developed, despite opposition, then what
development standards would be acceptable? Do not be misled into
interpreting that discussion as willingness to accept development in Area A.

The Coalition will continue its watch over the work of Central Arkansas
Water, and its protection of our drinking water, in the years to come. We
compliment Jim Harvey, Executive Director of the utility, and Bruno Kirsch,
who headed this work of the advisory groups creating the Management Plan
with aid from Tetra Tech, the consultants. Their priority is public welfare
and safety, abundant water at reasonable prices, and assured supplies for
decades to come.

Compared to that, the profit of developers who acquired Lake Maumelle
property in Area A long after construction of the lake, and once the western
development of Chenal Valley was well under way, falls by the wayside.

Yours Truly,
Clayton Johnson

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