Monthly Archives: September 2016

Beaver Water District Urges Public to Imagine A Day Without Water

091216-photo-for-imagine-a-day-without-water-news-releasePhoto Cutline: (From left) Duyen Tran of CH2M, Alecia Patton of Jacksonville Water, Larry Lloyd of Beaver Water District, Jane Hurley of Central Arkansas Water and Jeff Hickle of CH2M.

Can you imagine waking up tomorrow with no water to drink, make coffee, shower, flush the toilet, or do laundry? Without water, firefighters couldn’t put out fires and farmers couldn’t water their crops. Imagine a Day Without Water, held annually on Sept. 15th, is an opportunity to raise awareness and educate residents about the value of water.

“Most people can take for granted that when the turn on the tap, or flush the toilet, water systems function exactly as they are supposed to,” said Radhika Fox, CEO of the US Water Alliance and Director of the Value of Water Coalition. “But the systems that provide critical water and wastewater services are aging, and we need to take action before it gets worse. Because a day without water is nothing short of a crisis.”

With that in mind, Beaver Water District (BWD) and other Northwest Arkansas organizations are urging folks to get involved and be a part of this awareness-raising event.

“This is BWD’s second year to join in this national day of action by conducting a social media campaign,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for BWD. “We’re simply asking our staff and the public to snap selfies drinking water from the tap in a reusable cup, glass or bottle and post the photo to their social media accounts with the hashtag #ValueWater & #ValueWaterAR. It’s easy!”

The Arkansas element comes in via the Arkansas Water Environment Association (AWEA), which is asking Arkansans to add an additional “Arkansas-specific” hashtag — #ValueWaterAR — to social media posts to track Arkansas participation, said Jane Hurley of Central Arkansas Water, a member of AWEA.

Other events occurring this week in Arkansas include the Northwest District monthly meeting of the Arkansas Water Works & Water Environment Association in Springdale on Wednesday (Sept. 14) at the John Powell Senior Center Annex, at 610 East Grove Avenue. Mayor Doug Sprouse of Springdale will open the meeting at 8:30 a.m. by reading a proclamation declared by the City of Springdale.

There will also be several presentations throughout the day regarding water & wastewater training, as well as presentation on “Imagine a Day Without Water,” presented by Hurley. Contact Jennifer Enos with the Springdale Water Utility Department at (479) 756-3657 with additional questions regarding this event.

On Thursday (Sept. 15), the City of Fayetteville and CH2M will hold an Open House at their West Side Water Recourse Recovery Facility. This event is free the public. Tours will be available from 2 to 5 p.m. at 15 S Broyles Ave, Fayetteville. Contact Michelle Strange with CH2M at (479) 443-3292 for information. Also, on Thursday, Mayor Lioneld Jordan of Fayetteville will read a proclamation to the public on the Fayetteville Square at during the Farmers Market. Additionally, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is promoting this event to all its members asking them to create their own events.

September 2016-Tracking Turbidity in the West Fork

Erin Scott is project manager for the Arkansas Water Resources Center at the University of Arkansas. The center is part of a national network of 54 water institutes that work in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Institutes for Water Resources. The center has helped local, state and federal agencies manage Arkansas’ water resources for more than 30 years. Scott writes here about her team’s work to measure water quality by tracking turbidity of the West Fork of the White River. (First published by University of Arkansas, Research Frontiers on August 26, 2016 & used here with permission. Visit http://researchfrontiers.uark.edu.) 

west-fork-white-river-mapThe West Fork of the White River is a vital water resource for Northwest Arkansas, not only because it provides ample opportunity for swimming and other recreational activities, but also because it ultimately flows into Beaver Lake, which is the water source for roughly half a million people.

We at the Arkansas Water Resources Center, based at the University of Arkansas, are working with Beaver Watershed Alliance to evaluate water quality of the 28-mile-long stream that most locals call “the West Fork.” The Alliance is a local non-profit group whose mission is to protect the water quality of the Beaver Lake Watershed.

John Pennington, executive director of the Alliance, says the purpose of the investigation is to collect scientific data that could potentially result in large portions of the river being taken off the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s list of impaired waterbodies.

Currently, the entire river is listed as impaired because of elevated turbidity, or sediment in the water. Sediment pollution can be caused by erosion from the landscape as well as from the stream banks.

To better understand how turbidity changes from upstream to downstream along the river, we are collecting water samples at nine sites, including the small headwaters in the beautiful Boston Mountains, the mouth of the West Fork in the Ozark Mountain eco-region near Fayetteville, and seven other sites between these two. We’ve been measuring turbidity at all these sites at least once a month for the past two years.

Haley McLaughlin, a senior majoring in biological and agricultural engineering, takes a water sample at Baptist Ford on the West Fork of the White River. McLaughlin is from Conway. | Russell Cothren, University of Arkansas

Haley McLaughlin, a senior majoring in biological and agricultural engineering, takes a water sample at Baptist Ford on the West Fork of the White River. McLaughlin is from Conway. | Russell Cothren, University of Arkansas

So far, the data suggest that the majority of the river does not have turbidity levels that exceed the state’s water quality standard. In fact, only two of the nine sample sites had high turbidity, which occurred in the most downstream section as the landscape becomes more urbanized near Fayetteville.

The fact that most of the river does not appear to violate the water quality standard for turbidity can have important policy and management implications. For example, a lot of state and federal money can be spent on restoration and best management practices for streams that are listed as impaired.

The goal of this study is to collect data that might lead to at least part of the West Fork of the White River being removed from the state’s 303(d) list of impaired waterbodies for turbidity. This means that money and resources can be better targeted toward portions of the river where elevated turbidity is a real problem. Ultimately, this can mean better water quality in the West Fork and a cleaner drinking water supply from Beaver Lake.

Links: Arkansas Water Resources Center, http://arkansas-water-center.uark.edu/ Beaver Watershed Alliance, http://www.beaverwatershedalliance.org/ Arkansas’ 303(d) list… https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/water/planning/integrated/303d/list.aspx ]

Secchi Day Video Produced by Middle School Students-View It Here!

Please enjoy this Secchi Day, 2016 EAST video documentary, created by students from the class of Caen Dowell, EAST Facilitator, Randall G. Lynch Middle School, Farmington, Arkansas. The students attended the 11th annual Beaver Lake water sampling event and Science Festival on August 20 at Prairie Creek Park on Beaver Lake in Rogers (Northwest Arkansas). It’s a fine production!

https://youtu.be/XIHKksZf0y0

Nature May Cause Drinking Water to Taste, Smell Strange

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Rising algae counts may lead some customers to detect taste or odor in their drinking water right now, while others may not. What is important to remember is that the water is safe to drink, according to officials with Beaver Water District (BWD).

“Conditions in Beaver Lake, such as excess nutrients, sometimes promote more rapid growth of algae,” said Alan D. Fortenberry P.E., CEO of BWD. “When algae die, they may give off smelly chemicals that can cause unpleasant tastes in drinking water. Here at BWD, we keep an eye on what’s going on with algae conditions when we sample for ‘MIB,’ or 2-methylisoborneol, an organic compound.”

MIB is released by certain algae as part of the normal life cycle. Algal growth is spurred by sunlight, heat, and nutrients from watershed runoff. “MIB is detectable to people at different levels,” Fortenberry added. “While the standard threshold number is 5 parts per trillion, some people may not notice any taste and odor until the levels are much higher. Others may never notice it.”

Additionally in early fall when the temperatures begin to cool off, the lake experiences turnover, and water mixes from top to bottom. This causes compounds to rise from the bottom of the lake to the top. Various organic components may then be introduced into the raw water supply and this frequently leads to taste and odor problems.

The good news is that taste and odor at the tap can be minimized in a variety of ways. For instance, chilling water and/or adding some lemon to the water will help. In addition, some people use carbon filters – the type used in water pitchers or attached to faucets.

Taste and odor issues occur as a result of environmental conditions and also human actions, officials said, adding that they want customers to understand the cause of taste and odor and be proactive about taking care of Beaver Lake. To help keep the lake free of too many nutrients, don’t over fertilize lawns and contain sediment and dirt on construction sites with silt fencing.

The main message Beaver Water District wants to get across to the public is that regardless of the taste or the smell, the water is safe to drink.

“These taste and odor issues come up about the same time every year,” he said. “And this is not unique to our area. It’s just a seasonal event. It may last a few weeks. The timeframe varies. BWD can’t control nature. However, we want to assure our customers that, no matter how short or long the duration of the event, the water is safe to drink.”

Beaver Water District supplies drinking water to more than 300,000 people and industries in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and surrounding areas. For more information, contact Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs, at awilson@bwdh2o.org or link directly to this taste and odor fact sheet at https://www.bwdh2o.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/BWD-Taste-and-Odor-Fact-Sheet-UPDATE-2014.pdf.