The Fight for the Watershed... | Shale Watch

The Fight for the Watershed...



Concerned citizens sign petitions at a rally earlier this year calling on Pulaski County officials to add 5 acre minimum lot sizees to the county's subdivision rules.  Minimum lot requirements would provide enough open spaces to limit pollution in the watershed.

...Continues tomorrow night at the Pulaski County quorum court meeting.  There are four Lake Maumelle-related items on the agenda for the meeting:

1) An ordinance that will allow the county to enter into an agreement with Central Arkansas Water for the continued protection of the watershed.

2) An amendment to the county budget to accept money from Central Arkansas Water.

3) An ordinance that will define, geographically, exactly what the watershed is.  A lot of people don't know exactly what the word "watershed" means.  I have to admit I didn't when I first became interested in this topic.  The watershed is defined as the land around a source of water that drains into that body of water.  It's basically a loop that is drawn around the lake that's connected by the highest points of elevation immediately surrounding the lake.  All water that falls within that loop will drain down into Lake Maumelle.  Water that falls on the other side, of a hill for example, would fall away from the lake and thus wouldn't be considered part of the actual watershed.

4) The final, and undoubtedly the most controversial, is an ordinance to enact the subdivision and development codes of the county.  Lake Maumelle advocates want those subdivision rules to be amended to include a five acre minimum lot size for development within the watershed.  Kate Althoff of the Sierra Club says those minimum lot sizes are vital to protecting the watershed from over-development and the pollution that would likely result.  County officials want to wait for a land-use plan that they say will include minimum lot sizes within the watershed.  Althoff says it would take too long to develop such a plan and fears if the land is developed in the meantime, developers would rely on best-management practices that don't go far enough to protect the water.  Althoff also says the political will to place lot restrictions on development in the watershed would depend on political will which is unlikely to ever develop without being provoked by some kind of crisis. 

It's hard to say who will have the votes.  The county has been resistent to a minimum lot size amendment, but environmental advocates are a persistent bunch.  There will surely be some fireworks at the meeting.  Look for some parliamentary procedure maneuvering and heated debate over what's best for the water.  Lake Maumelle is a source of drinking water for almost 400,000 Arkansans. 

The meeting will be held in the Pulaski County Administration building at 7:00 p.m. on April 28.  See the full agenda here.


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