This is an age-old question that has been attributed to many sources, including Confucius, as an old Chinese proverb. In October 1985, the expression was also labeled as a Chinese proverb in a quote from the Lincoln Journal newspaper (Lincoln, Nebraska):
Former state Sen. Maurice Kremer, described as Nebraska’s foremost water expert, is fond of repeating a Chinese proverb: “When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. The second-best time is today.”
When I think about this quote it reminds me of the phrase “planting a seed.” The many District activities and achievements highlighted in this edition of The Source can simply be described as planting seeds. Since its formation, the leadership of Beaver Water District has recognized the value of the quality and quantity of the water, made accessible to the region by the creation of the Beaver reservoir, and should never be taken for granted. They had a vision and planted a seed, which quickly “grew” into Northwest Arkansas’ most valuable natural resource. Symbolically, our hope is that the seeds we plant today ultimately grow into centuries-old trees like the McBaine Burr Oak, shown in the image, that provide benefits for generations to come.
The District’s Environmental Quality and Public Affairs departments work tirelessly to address potential threats to water quality within the lake and surrounding watershed. These challenges are due in large part to the ever- increasing development pressures of our growing region, but they can also come in the form of regulatory and legislative issues. We recently enjoyed hosting Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District Leadership Caucus and providing them with an in-depth look at the history, present-day, and future of Beaver Water District. It is vitally important that our legislative delegation understand the critical importance of our Mission and the depth and breadth of the challenge of meeting our Vision for the future. We are thankful for their engagement, and we are grateful for their representation and leadership. Hopefully, we planted a seed.
We are also extremely proud of the recent “seed-planting” collaboration between the District, the City of Fayetteville, and the Watershed Conservation Resource Center in the successful conservation of a large tract of agricultural and riparian land along the West Fork of the White River in southeast Fayetteville. These riparian areas, whether adjacent to a major tributary within the watershed or along the shoreline of the lake, slow surface runoff and function as natural filters. The preservation and/or restoration of these areas must be a priority in order to offset the impacts of the inevitable loss of green space to future development and growth in the watershed.
So, I will restate the proverbial question: “When is the best time to protect water quality? Twenty years ago. The second-best time is today.”