Dr. James McCarty (left), Manager of Environmental Quality for Beaver Water District, and Matthew Rich, Environmental Specialist, sampling Beaver Lake.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has recognized Beaver Water District (BWD) with the 2020 Exemplary Source Water Protection Award in the large water system category. Award recipients demonstrate the highest level of vision, goals, action plan, innovation, implementation and evaluation in the categories of small, medium and large water system. BWD, a wholesale drinking water provider, serves a population of 358,000 in Benton and Washington counties in northwest Arkansas. The system’s sole water source is Beaver Lake, a large reservoir on the White River that is vulnerable to high turbidity events and nutrient loads.
BWD partnered with the Northwest Arkansas Council to develop a Beaver Lake Watershed Protection Strategy, which became a key element in BWD’s 2012 Source Water Protection Plan. The District regularly revises and updates the plan as new data becomes available. In 2016, BWD’s Board of Directors voted to dedicate four cents per every 1,000 gallons sold to a Source Water Protection Fund. This funding ensures ongoing implementation of source water protection activities.
Through its Environmental Quality Department, BWD implements and oversees a variety of watershed protection projects, including watershed and reservoir monitoring/modeling, stream restoration and prescribed burns, research, GIS analysis, laboratory analysis, public awareness/education, and policy/regulatory review.
Currently, BWD is the sponsoring organization for a Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) on the West Fork of the White River, an area with critical watershed and streambank erosion issues. This program is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
“Northwest Arkansas is a fast-growing region with some major fortune 500 companies and our economic growth and vitality is directly tied to the availability of clean, safe drinking water,” said James McCarty, BWD’s Source Water Protection Manager. “We believe that if we don’t protect Beaver Lake for future generations, no one will. We know we can’t do it alone, so we try to lead the protection effort in a collaborative way, as seen in the RCPP we are sponsoring where there are more than six participating organizations involved in an $8.6 million watershed improvement effort.”
About Beaver Water District
Beaver Water District supplies clean, safe drinking water, sourced from Beaver Lake, to Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville. These cities in Northwest Arkansas then pump, store, distribute and resell the water to their customers. For more information, visit www.bwdh2o.org.