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Central Arkansas Water (CAW) owns and operates Lake Maumelle, but owns only 19 percent of the 137 square mile watershed. The Lake serves over 388,000 people for 15 communities including the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock, however, currently does not serve landowners in the watershed. About 97 percent of the watershed is in forest or meadow, yielding a very high quality water supply. Recent attempts to develop property relatively near CAW's water supply intake resulted in condemnation, legislative battles, and lawsuits.

Beginning in June 2005, a 22-member Policy Advisory Council (PAC) and panel of technical resource advisors were engaged in a facilitated watershed management planning process. Measurable indicators and water quality targets were established for adopted goals and objectives, which included sustaining the high quality water supply and equitably distributing costs and benefits. The PAC also helped craft different visions for the watershed (i.e. how inevitable development could be shaped), which were evaluated through the use of linked watershed and lake response models and development cost impact models. The modeling tools allowed stakeholders to see which combination of practices could sustain a high quality water supply. Administrative and political feasibility, including watershed landowner preferences, were gauged, including obtaining input from more than 20 public meetings.

The Lake Maumelle Watershed Plan was developed, and unanimously adopted by the CAW Board of Commissioners in February 2007. The Plan contains regulatory, non-regulatory and voluntary recommendations covering new development, wastewater management, land acquisition, and other measures. Provisions incorporate watershed and sedimentation and erosion control ordinance provisions, conservation planning and open space requirements, a ban on surface water wastewater discharges with provisions for distributed onsite systems managed by a Responsible Management Entity, and capacity building for managing performance-based development incorporating low impact development principles. Additionally, the Plan has recommendations for specific public investment by CAW in the watershed, including purchase of conservation land or easements, funding a Watershed Administrator position for development review, cost-sharing, and working to provide supplemental water for landowners in the watershed. An Implementation Strategy has been drafted and initial actions are underway, including drafting of a model Watershed Protection Ordinance and hiring of the Watershed Administrator. The Plan provides for long-term, adaptive watershed management through formation of a Watershed Stewardship Council.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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