THE MORNING NEWS
FORK When it rains in the West Fork watershed, water isn't
all that rushes downstream. The stream bank tons of it
is washed away with it. Entire chunks of the bank can be carried
down the West Fork of the White River during flooding, according
to Sandi Formica of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
chief of environmental preservation at ADEQ, addressed bank erosion
on the stream Tuesday night at a meeting of the West Fork community
watershed group. About 30 attended the meeting at the West Fork
was the second meeting of the group formed by Audubon Arkansas to
improve water quality in the West Fork of the White River. The stream
has been designated as impaired by the ADEQ and the federal Environmental
Protection Agency because of excess turbidity. Formica said ADEQ
monitors eight stream banks on the West Fork. Stream bank erosion
at one site is so severe the stream sliced into the bank 16.6 feet
in one year.
added that, from January through September 2002, 640 million pounds
of sediment passed through one monitoring station.
sediment gets washed into the West Fork of the White River, Formica
said, than into most Northwest Arkansas streams. The main fork of
the White River, Osage Creek in Benton County and the Kings River
in Madison and Carroll counties receive less sediment when it rains
hard, she said. Audubon Arkansas has cited stretches of treeless
banks as a main cause of bank erosion, because there are no root
systems to stabilize the stream bank. Another cause of excess sediment
cited by the group is runoff from county gravel roads.
Tuesday's meeting, members of the watershed group drafted a list
of concerns they have about the stream. The areas of concern ran
the gamut from excess sediment to railroad ties in the water to
the effects of Interstate 540.
Terry, conservation organizer for Audubon Arkansas, said a panel
of 21 University of Arkansas professors from various departments
has volunteered to help the watershed group. They will answer questions
and offer possible solutions on issues raised by the watershed group,
is to take the list of concerns to the panel before the next meeting,
set for March 16, and report on any input from the UA panel. That
meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the West Fork community center.
Fork resident James Nelson said people who do not attend the watershed
meetings are the ones who need to be educated most about the water-quality
issues. "You've got to reach the unconscious ones," Nelson
said. "You've got to somehow reach them."
Earnest of Fayetteville, a former commissioner on the now defunct
state scenic rivers commission, believes little stream-bank improvement
will take place until county governments make laws to protect them.
"Until counties pass riparian zones, we will always be having
these meetings," said Earnest, who noted that he served six
years on the river commission.