It feels fundamentally wrong to wish away a year, but I can't think I'm alone! With my first year as Executive Director coming to a close, I can't help but wonder how much more we could have done had it not been for COVID...All of the in person meetings, conferences, and presenting opportunities came to a screeching halt shortly after my arrival but we still managed to make some important in-roads. So many things remain unknown as we approach 2021. The election is still steeped in confusion and, while we have vaccines, the virus management is difficult to navigate. I've been watching the names being brought forward for a potential Biden team who will have an impact on environmental quality issues. I am withholding comments until things are firmed up. At the end of the day, I anticipate whoever leads the USEPA, Department of Interior, and Department of Energy will have the same overall goals of protecting our environment and the quality of life for Americans. How we get there is always the rub! So, hoping you all had a blessed Christmas and Cheers to 2021!
LAKE TANEYCOMO WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PLAN
Lake Taneycomo Watershed Management Planning is well underway. (You will notice some redundancy here--this project is VERY important to our region, and I want to be certain if you missed the last issue, you are kept up to speed.)The Purpose of The Plan: to develop a nonpoint source watershed plan that will outline goals to address water quality standards deficiencies. Additionally we'll be working with the researchers to develop a demonstration project that will support solutions to our challenges. Silting, erosion, and nutrient loading are the concerns that seem to top the list. Our stakeholder advisory group members will make sure we hear them all.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Lake Taneycomo is a premier destination for fishing and recreating. A healthy Taneycomo means important revenue for our region in tourism dollars and maintaining property values. Businesses in Branson, Rockaway Beach, Forsyth, and Hollister rely upon clean water to continue to thrive.
Our next Technical Advisory Group Meeting will be in the first two weeks of February. In the meanwhile, there is a lot of great data collecting and research going on by Dr Pavlowsky's team at MSU. We look forward to hearing about what they are seeing. For more information on what has been shared to date feel free to visit our website.
If you are interested in being a part of this important effort
to continue to improve Lake Taneycomo, please contact us
IMPORTANCE OF WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Very good information to help us employ ways to address pollution flowing to surface waters. These waters can be the sources of drinking water for many of us--in fact a majority of Northwest Arkansas. Thanks to Environment America for the "poster" and Beaver Water District for posting.
We are pleased to announce our new full time Project Director for Arkansas: Shellly Smith. Shelly is an Arkansas native who has recently returned to Fayetteville after 14 years in the northeast seacoast region. In New Hampshire she worked for a grassroots nonprofit organization, "Seacoast Eat Local," where she managed community based and ecologically important programs that promoted local foods. She is very excited to bring her experience and enthusiasm to Ozarks Water Watch and the Septic Grant and Loan Program in January! I bet she won't miss those awful nor'easter storms! Shelly's experience in building a program like Eat Local will be key in helping us with effective outreach and communications to septic system owners in northwest AR.
The number of septic systems continues to increase due to population growth throughout the watershed and around Beaver Lake. Failing septic systems can contribute to water quality problems due to the transport of nutrients and pathogens to local streams, rivers, or lakes. The goal of the program is to improve and protect water quality in the UWRB. Two other watersheds - the Upper Illinois River and Buffalo River watersheds - are also being funded through this pilot program with NRD. Many thanks to Erin for working through the grant process, and submitting a successful proposal that will pay dividends of keeping our northwest Arkansas waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable!
STREAMSMART IS BACK IN ACTION!
Ozarks Water Watch and Beaver Water District have reinvigorated the StreamSmart program in the Beaver Lake watershed in Arkansas. StreamSmart is a volunteer program where citizen scientists monitor water quality at stream sites throughout the Beaver Lake Watershed. Mark and Jim are pictured here, collecting samples and site information at Clear Creek last month. These two guys have been part of the program since the beginning, in 2012! If you're interested in joining the StreamSmart team, email Erin Scott.