Watershed meeting | Arkansas Blog

Watershed meeting

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Fernsler
  • Fernsler
On the whole, a very civil meeting at the Arkansas Studies Institute this afternoon to discuss the draft land use plan for the Lake Maumelle watershed. The meeting was the seventh public forum to discuss the draft plan. Another forum is scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. at Winfield United Methodist Church, 20100 Highway 10. We've previously reported on clean water advocates' criticism of the plan and ongoing attempts to strike a balance between clean water and property rights in the watershed.

Details from today's meeting on the jump...

Tea Partiers and property-rights advocates were well represented — including one young man who got around to calling the Big Dam Bridge "the Big Dam Dog Poo Bridge that they wasted money on" — but so were the water watchdogs, who brought up questions about everything from the plan's allowances for medium-sized animal farming operations (farms with up to 299 beef cattle or 64,999 chickens would be allowed in the watershed under the proposed plan) to the removal of provisions limiting sub-surface mining, to the impact of trash-dumping visitors in a park proposed by Central Arkansas Water.

Mark White with White and Smith LLC and John Fernsler with WRT, who presented the plan to the group at the beginning of the meeting, seemed to spend extra time making a preemptive defense against charges that the land use plan would result in property rights infringement, pointing out that most current homeowners in the area wouldn't be affected.

One commenter asked whether a financial comparison had been done to study the difference between implementing the watershed protection plan and building a better water treatment plant to remove the pollutants from the reservoir if no plan was implemented. An official with CAW stood up and said that doing nothing would eventually require the construction of a "membrane" treatment plant, which would cost $200-$300 million on the low end, and possibly as much as $500 million.

"There is such a thing in this country beside property rights," said commenter Rel Corbin. "It's called the common good."

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