View of Lake Maumelle from Pinnacle Mountain
There’s been a lot of talk lately about what can be done to protect the Lake Maumelle watershed, a source of drinking water for about 95 percent of Pulaski County as well as other areas in the state. Efforts by Central Arkansas Water to change a Pollution Control and Ecology Commission regulation that allows surface discharge of wastewater in the watershed have been unsuccessful. Martin Maner, the director of CAW, has called the issue a no-brainer. It seems fairly obvious that sewage should not be dumped into the drinking supply, but efforts to codify such a rule have been opposed by the PC&E commission. One commissioner, Tom Scheuck, is an investor, along with Jay DeHaven, in some property in the watershed that could be developed with homes not attached to Little Rock sewer service.
Recently, there have been reports on an effort to buy land around the lake to protect it from development. Today, Rep. John Edwards, D-Little Rock, filed HB 1746, that would prevent the surface discharge of wastewater from a wastewater treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, package plant or similar facility into the Lake Maumelle watershed, as well as 29 other watersheds around the state.
Edwards has kept the bill quiet for some time, trying to build support among other legislators. It looks like that worked. Sen. Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow, will be the bill’s sponsor in the Senate. Two sessions ago, Johnson opposed efforts to protect the Maumelle watershed from development. Johnson's support should increase the bill's chances of passing in the Senate. Edwards was quick to stress that the bill was not an effort to step on the toes of ADEQ or to do their job for them, but to give the agency the tools it needed to protect the quality of water in the state.