The Crisis of Success (Part Two)

Message from the CEO

The Source: November 2022

By M. Lane Crider P.E., LEED AP

In the last newsletter, I focused on a concept that had been introduced by the NWA Council’s Regional Strategy 2022 – 2026. Decades of successful planning, messaging, and cooperative efforts have resulted in significant ongoing and projected growth. With the success, however, has come increasing housing costs, a growing shortage of affordable workforce housing, and rapidly decreasing infrastructure capacity. In addition, the threat to our natural resources like clean air and water, abundant and accessible natural areas and green spaces, becomes greater every day. In this edition, I want to further highlight this “crisis of success” and how Beaver Water District is working to balance preservation of our most important natural resources with preparation for, and support of, ongoing growth and development. As a matter of fact, this issue falls squarely within the first sentence of the Vision Statement of the District; “Beaver Water District will support the quality of life and economic growth of Northwest Arkansas by preserving the quality of our drinking water source, Beaver Lake.”

In May of 2006, the BWD Board of Directors adopted a philosophy and position on source water protection, committing the District to provide leadership and take actions necessary to protect Beaver Lake as a natural resource. In 2009, with encouragement from the District, the NWA Council commissioned the development of a Beaver Lake Watershed Protection Strategy, which outlined specific actions to protect the watershed and reduce runoff into the lake. The actions included formation of a watershed alliance, the implementation of core best management practices, education, stewardship, and water quality monitoring. The Strategy was updated in 2012 and again in 2016, when a costbenefit analysis of the Strategy indicated a return on investment of 144% and a net present value in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

While there are a variety of actions prescribed in the Strategy, there are three core best management practices that have the most impact on the reduction of sediment and nutrient loads into the lake; land conservation, stream restoration, and land development best management practices. To date, the most successful of these has been nutrient load reduction through streambank restoration. The projects that BWD has supported over the last several years in the West Fork of the White River sub-watershed have resulted in an estimated annual reduction of sediment of more than 15,000 tons per year and an estimated reduction in total phosphorus loading of 10,000 pounds per year!

Last year, the District’s Environmental Quality Department developed a five-year strategic plan for continued source water protection efforts. Even as we expand the stream restoration projects into the War Eagle Creek sub-watershed, we are evaluating opportunities for land and riparian area conservation. We are also increasing our efforts to educate our state, county, and local municipal leaders, along with the general public, on the critical importance of protecting our drinking water source through smart, intentional development planning and approval.

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