Monthly Archives: October 2015

NW AR Water Operators Take First Place In SW Competition

Dustin Mayhew Nikki Bridges Frank Blowers presented with award by Ken Bardett - SW Sec Top Ops 2015 Plaque 2 100615Beaver Water District’s team took 1st place in the Top Ops Challenge held Oct. 6, 2015, in Shreveport, LA, during the annual meeting of the Southwest Section of the American Water Works Association. Dustin Mayhew (left) of Springdale, Plant Operator II; Nicole Bridges of Lowell, Laboratory Analyst; and Frank Blowers of Pea Ridge, Maintenance Mechanic II, comprised the team, which will now compete in the national competition to be held next June in Chicago. Ken Bardett, Transportation/Housing Chair for the Shreveport meeting, presented the award. Last year, this same team won the regional competition and placed 6th overall in nationals.

The Top Ops Challenge is designed to promote excellence and professionalism and provide an opportunity for water professionals to showcase their talents in all aspects of water operations.

Beaver Water District supplies drinking water to more than 300,000 people and industries in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and surrounding areas. The District’s mission is to serve our customers’ needs by providing high quality drinking water that meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements and is economically priced consistent with our quality standards. For information, visit For information about the Southwest Section of the AWWA, visit For information about AWWA, visit

Beaver Lake “Secchi Day” Data Reveal Water Quality “Maintaining”

LOWELL, AR — For the past 10 years, more than 100 citizen scientists and others have collected water quality data on Beaver Lake near Rogers in Northwest Arkansas during the annual Secchi Day event, typically held on the third Saturday each August. The big question on everyone’s minds is whether there are any trends that can be identified, now that there’s a decade of data to consider. To put it simply, how is the water quality in Beaver Lake doing?

Dr. Bob Morgan, Manager of Environmental Quality for Beaver Water District (BWD), and Sabrina Bowman, Environmental Specialist, shared data and comments about Secchi Day with BWD Board members during their regularly scheduled meeting held at noon today.

Bowman reported that eight new volunteer sampling teams participated this year and a total of 30 teams covered 35 sample sites throughout Beaver Lake. Many of the veteran teams have been participants every year since the event began in 2006. Sampling teams take Secchi disk readings to determine water clarity, and collect water samples which are tested for chlorophyll a, total phosphorus, and nitrate, to determine algal density and nutrient concentration. Secchi depth is a measure of water transparency that involves lowering a black and white disk into the water and recording the maximum depth in which the black and white pattern can be distinguished from above the water’s surface.

Morgan said, “Overall, everything was slightly better this year than the average of the data over the past 10 years. However, the data tell us that the water quality is not rapidly changing one way or the other, at least in late summer. In other words, the lake water quality is maintaining, and that’s what we want to see.”

He added that one of the longtime volunteers said he helps collect data so that someday far into the future, maybe 50 years from now, people will have records of how clear and clean water in the lake used to be. That observation was very astute as our memories of what used to be tend to degrade over time. It maintains a record of what can be.

This year, the greatest Secchi depth was 5 meters, or approximately 16 feet. This occurred at site 29 near Beaver Dam. The lowest depth of 1.05 meters, a bit more than 3 feet, was measured at Site 1 at Hwy. 412 Bridge. The average Secchi depth for 2015 was slightly greater than the 10-year long term average of 2.7 meters.  Near surface mean concentrations for both chlorophyll a and nitrate were lower in 2015 than in the last nine years. Secchi depth in late August is inversely related to the concentration of chlorophyll a.  Therefore, as chlorophyll a decreases, Secchi depth increases.

To read this year’s detailed Secchi report, link to the District’s website at Next year’s event will be held on Aug. 20, 2016. Secchi Day on Beaver Lake is made possible by 11 partners including BWD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Beaver Lake, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Hobbs State Park, Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists, the Association for Beaver Lake Environment, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Ozarks Water Watch, and One Community. Secchi Day is one of the premiere water public awareness and education events in Arkansas.

BWD’s board meets monthly with the exception of December. The board consists of three members from Washington County and three from Benton County. They are elected to six-year terms and every two years, a position comes open in each county. The board oversees BWD, which cleans and purifies drinking water sold at the wholesale price of $1.29 per 1000 gallons to Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville. The raw water is sourced from Beaver Lake, which one in seven Arkansans relies on lake for safe, clean drinking water.

Going Under

Over the last several years, I have made many trips on or around Beaver Lake. I have not, however, been under the surface of Beaver for more than a few seconds. This is unfortunate because all the action, limnologically speaking, is under the water. Beaver Water District’s plant engineer, Bill HagenBurger, is on the other hand an avid scuba diver. It turns out that Bill is also an excellent writer. The following is an article that Bill wrote for the Fall 2015 issue of the Southwest Water Works Journal, the official publication of the Southwest Section of the American Water Works Association. It describes a diving trip that he and his daughter made on Beaver late this last summer. Enjoy! – Bob

October-2015-Bill-ScubaBy Bill HagenBurger, P.E.

Plant Engineer, Beaver Water District

I was suffering from a bad case of writer’s block when trying to figure out what to write about for this journal article. I had planned on going for a dive at Beaver Lake and thought, “What better place to think about an idea for an article about water than 40 feet underwater at Beaver Lake, the raw water source for Northwest Arkansas?”

So, we packed the Jeep and my daughter’s boyfriend’s truck up with scuba gear and kayaks and headed to the lake. The scuba gear was for my oldest daughter and myself and the three kayaks for my wife, youngest daughter and her boyfriend. We got to the lake at the Dam site north park. The water level on Beaver Lake was so high that we were able to park within 10 feet of the water. My wife, daughter and her boyfriend unloaded the kayaks while my other daughter and I went to the local dive shop to pick up two full tanks of compressed air. When we got back to the lake, my wife, daughter and her boyfriend were out on the kayaks paddling around, my daughter was getting some sun, her boyfriend was fishing and my wife was enjoying being on the lake. So my daughter and I got on our gear, swam out about 50 feet and headed under the water. Next thing you know, I am about 30 feet down and it gets cold. I had hit the thermocline. My daughter will not get into the cold water, so we stayed right at the 30 foot mark. I did get down to 36 feet deep, but not the 40 foot mark as planned.

There I was, underwater just waiting for something to hit me for this article. Nothing. So we swam along and found a string line. We followed it to a sunken car that a dive shop had placed there. We found about a dozen fish swimming around it, mostly small perch, but what looked like some larger bass. We found another string line and followed it to the dive platform that was placed there for certification dives. I looked at my dive computer while standing on the platform and it said we were 26 feet deep. We swam down to the bottom of the platform and it started getting cold. I was at 34 feet deep. I thought the dive platform would be deeper since the lake was so high. The lake was only about a half foot below the top of the flood pool, so it could not get much higher than that.

Then I thought, “I guess they really want to keep the platform above the thermocline.” As I swam around the bottom of the platform, I saw the rope they had tied to it and it hit me, “They move the platform up and down, depending on the lake level.” A look at my pressure gauge and it was right about 600 psi (pounds per square inch), so it was time to ascend to about 15 feet for a safety stop to decompress a little and then head up. When we got to the shore, I realized I had gone through a full tank of compressed air and my daughter still had a little over a half of tank.

We ran to the dive shop to get a refill, headed back, got our gear on and went under again. I started thinking about what an unusual summer it has been for our raw water quality. We had some late spring rainfalls, and then some early summer rainfalls. Those rains managed to fill the lake up enough that the floodgates had to be opened twice, once after the 4th of July! That has never happened on Beaver Lake. The good thing about these late rains was that the spring foliage was already grown and not much sediment was washed into the lake, so we did not see the high turbidity that we normally see if the floodgates were opened in the early spring. So I was thinking, “This is a good thing… the lake is full early in the summer and no turbidity.” Then we started seeing some of our THM1, TOC2 and DOC3 numbers and, well, they were pretty high. It seems that with the spring foliage fully grown, the runoff coming into the lake did not bring a lot of sediment. But what it did bring was a lot of carbon, and to make it worse, it was a lot of dissolved carbon, which is very difficult to settle out. So now, we are struggling to remove as much dissolved carbon as we can and keep our THM numbers down. Just goes to show you — that’s the thing about water treatment – if it is not one thing it’s another.

1 trihalomethanes (THMs) A group of disinfection-by-products consisting of four separate compounds.

2 total organic carbon (TOC) A measure of the amount of carbon in a sample that originates from organic matter only.

3 dissolved organic carbon (DOC) A general description of the organic material dissolved in water.

Beaver Water District Staffers Fill Regional Water Leadership Roles

Nikki Bridges-Beaver Water District Lab AnalystBill HagenBurger-Beaver Water District Plant EngineerBill HagenBurger of Rogers has been elected Chair of the Southwest Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Nicole Bridges of Lowell has been elected Chair of the Young Professionals Committee of the Southwest Section of AWWA. Both appointments occurred during the annual Southwest Section AWWA meeting held Oct. 4-6, 2015, in Shreveport, LA. HagenBurger is plant engineer at Beaver Water District. Bridges is a laboratory analyst. Beaver Water District supplies drinking water to more than 300,000 people and industries in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and surrounding areas. The District’s mission is to serve our customers’ needs by providing high quality drinking water that meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements and is economically priced consistent with our quality standards. For information, visit The Southwest Section of AWWA provides opportunities to advance knowledge and to share information regarding the drinking water industry. For information, visit

Board Meeting – October 15, 2015

Beaver Water District’s Board of Directors will meet at noon on Thursday, October 15, 2015, at 301 N. Primrose Road, Lowell, AR.

Tentative Agenda

1. Meeting Call to Order 2. Approval of minutes of previous regular meeting 3. Presentation — Secchi Day Report 4. Presentation — BWD Source Water Protection Program Report 5. Presentation — Beaver Watershed Alliance Annual Report 6. Other Business – RCPP Project Sponsorship – Projects with the University of Arkansas – U.S. Army corps of Engineers — Correspondence RE: Beaver Lake drawdowns